Discovering Biotech Startups: A map for Selling to Delve Therapeutics


Written by:
David Wilkerson

Welcome to the next edition of the Sponsor Atlas series, which focuses on young pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies that are in early stages or stealth mode. In the next edition of Sponsor Atlas: Discovering Biotech Startups, we’re looking at Delve Therapeutics LLC, and exploring the current affairs and future orientation of this emerging stealth biotech startup. To accomplish this, we will give a business overview of their current operations, summarize their outsourcing needs, map out their development goals and decision-makers, and highlight their current strategies for capturing innovation. If you haven’t already read our other blogs on new biotech startups, be sure to check them out here.   

Delve Therapeutics is an early-stage stealth biotech startup researching new oncolytic viruses to treat metastatic cancers. Their team is investigating possible ways to use synthetic biology to make viruses tumor-selective without reducing their cancer cell-killing potential.  

Business Overview

Delve Therapeutics does not currently have any registered trademarks, or even an operating website other than a simple landing page for when they do decide to go public. Their landing page specifically says in bold, “We are currently in stealth” and man are they ever. Even after scouring the web for days and trying to find information anywhere about the company’s activities it’s been next to impossible, easily making this one of the most difficult companies to research so far in this series.   

The company was established in Delaware as a C-Corp on 7/28/2016, and they are currently categorized as doing work under Commercial Biotechnical Research. Estimates show that Delve Therapeutics has an annual revenue of $25,923 and employs a staff of approximately 1-3. Their principal place of business, as noted on an online business entity search, is located at 1732 1st Ave, Suite 27466, New York, NY 10128, as well as being listed as a resident with the UCSF’s QB3-MBC BioLabs accelerator facility.  

The MBC Biolabs location at 953 Indiana St. (formerly QB3@953), established in 2013, features 24,000 sq. ft. of lab and office space in San Francisco's Dogpatch neighborhood, just a short walk from the UCSF Mission Bay Campus. MBC BioLabs provides spaces as small as a single bench in fully-equipped labs. Scientists can conduct experiments on their first day, cutting months and millions of dollars off the time and cost necessary to gather data. MBC BioLabs’s facilities in San Francisco and San Carlos are home to 60 energetic young companies. Since opening its doors four years ago, MBC BioLabs tenant companies have raised over $1.8 billion dollars.  

Outsourcing History

Even though there isn’t much online information about Delve Therapeutics’s outsourcing needs, with the large amount of cutting-edge research they’re exploring at this point in time, we believe they could truly benefit from outsourced services in almost every step of the drug development process. The company is still early in development but considering their QB3 residency, accelerator investment backing, and even a recent award, they are in a great position to fund a ton of outsourcing work.  

In January, Delve Therapeutics received investment backing of an undisclosed amount from JLABS, an accelerator firm owned by Johnson & Johnson and headquartered in San Diego, California. Ever since JLABS debuted with its flagship location in San Diego in 2012, the incubator division of Johnson & Johnson has supported dozens of early startup biotech companies that are innovating across four strategic areas of interest: consumer products, pharmaceuticals, medical devices and digital health.  

Delve Therapeutics will be working through the usual steps for a while before reaching the IND stage with potential products, and we think business development teams in the realms of large molecule CMOs, gene therapy and genetic engineering CROs, preclinical CROs and analytical service providers should definitely have them on their radar for the next few years.

Delve Therapeutics’s Pipeline and R&D Focus

The current focus of Delve Therapeutics’s pipeline will be optimizing potential drug candidates from all of their early research and launching successful clinical trials while building strategic relationships with outsourcing partners. Since there is so little information about their research and no publications for reference, it’s difficult to determine their exact path to market. But from looking at some of the past research from their executives, we believe the team at Delve is specifically working on developing new oncolytic viruses to treat metastatic cancers and intending to make viruses tumor-selective without reducing their cancer cell-killing potential. 

In June of 2018, Amgen and MBC BioLabs announced that Delve Therapeutics won one of the Amgen Golden Tickets at MBC BioLabs, a highly sought after award for scientific success and recognition within the QB3 community. The company received one year of lab bench space and access to core facilities at the MBC BioLabs life sciences incubator, as well as connections to Amgen’s scientific and business leaders to help advance its scientific programs. “The lab space provided by Amgen’s Golden Ticket will accelerate our research by allowing us to conduct more experiments in one place,” said Scott Becker, co-founder and chief business officer at Delve Therapeutics. “We also look forward to learning from Amgen’s scientists, who are at the forefront of clinical research in our field.”    

While the team is keeping most of their research under the radar for now, we believe Delve is working on developing an innovative oncolytic virus and gene platform for novel cancer therapeutics. Some of their research and early studies are most likely involving different aspects of AAV and HSV-1 mediated gene therapy for monogenic diseases including, cell specific transgene expression, exploring optimal routes of administrations, transgene optimization, immunogenicity and in vitro efficacy  studies. Another interesting technology from the past work of Delve’s executive team is the development of the “T-Stealth” oncolytic virus immunotherapy platform. Like all other oncolytic viruses, viral vectors are designed to penetrate cancer cells and destroy tumors from the inside out, but this in turn also activates an immune response within the body. This particularly special T-Stealth technology takes it a step further and actually enables its viruses to avoid being eaten by the bodies’ T-cells, thereby escaping immune functions and increasing local tumor destruction. We believe that Delve Therapeutics is working on a similar strategy to improve the immuno-therapeutic potential of oncolytic viruses, and also by harnessing different vectors such as with HSV-1 along with this T-Stealth platform.   

If your team has experience with immunology and gene therapy research targeting metastatic cancer, early preclinical services, CROs with experience in transgene optimization, immunogenicity and in vitro efficacy studies, or even large molecule clinical trial supplies, Delve Therapeutics should definitely be on your contact list, and you should be connecting with them for potential work in the near future.   

Decision Making

  • Scott Becker - Co-founder of Delve Therapeutics is a successful technical entrepreneur, startup advisor, and angel investor. He obtained his BS in Computational Biology from the University of Pennsylvania. In the past he was VP of Schrodinger, a company that developed tools to accelerate small molecule drug discovery. He was also Co-Founder of Invite Media, Inc., a computational advertising company acquired by Google in 2010. 
  • Dr. Aldo Pourchet - Co-founder and CSO at Delve Therapeutics is a seasoned molecular and cellular biologist with over 10 years experience in oncolytic virus and gene therapy. He developed the oncolytic immunotherapy “T-Stealth” for BeneVir Biopharm, Inc. which was acquired by Johnson & Johnson in 2018. He also developed AAV gene therapy RGX181, an asset that was eventually acquired by RegenXBio in 2018. Dr. Pourchet has initiated numerous successful collaborations with immunologists, pathologists, stem cell biologists and geneticists from around the world, and has authored multiple publications for scientific journals.   

Innovation

Delve Therapeutics is a viral immunotherapies company focused on driving innovation, pushing the envelope of gene therapy, and ultimately transforming the outcome for millions of cancer patients in the near future. Oncolytic viral immunotherapies hold a lot of potential in the treatment of solid tumors through leveraging the ever complex anti-tumor immune response within the body. Delve Therapeutics’s potential platform will further research in the field and bring on a vast array of new immunotherapies and combinations that may improve treatment for patients in need.       

One of the key issues from the birth of gene therapy has been delivery, and it remains the talking point. [1] Intensive vector engineering addressing targeting and delivery by the introduction of target-specific recognition signals and/or delivery-enhancing molecules, such as polymers and liposomes, has contributed to increased efficacy. Furthermore, the design of packaging cell lines has significantly facilitated the utilization of viral vectors for cancer treatment in experimental animal models. An interesting approach comprises employing oncolytic viruses as both naturally occurring [2] and engineered [3] vectors can provide superior therapeutic efficacy, due to their selective tumor cell-killing capacity and potential induction of systemic antitumor immunity. [4]

Most oncolytic virus therapies have been tested in patients with melanoma or brain tumors, and most treatments have been given as injections into tumors. New innovative studies are now being published that highlight efforts to expand the number of cancer types treated with oncolytic virus therapies as well as the methods of delivery, which Delve Therapeutics is currently exploring. As oncolytic viruses are tested in clinical trials, researchers will try to learn which patients are likely to respond. 

We need biomarkers to help develop effective combination therapies and to select patients who are most likely to benefit from certain combinations.” said Smita Nair, Ph.D., of the Duke University School of Medicine.

We think Delve Therapeutics is on track to have some major innovations in the biotech industry, and it’s difficult to say exactly when they will come out of stealth mode, but we’re thinking it should be within the next few years, so be sure to keep them on your schedule and look out for our next edition in this series coming soon.

How can I find new biotech startups?

If you would like a simple solution for keeping an eye on drug sponsor companies, like Delve Therapeutics, without relying on a database and generic lists of leads each week, we at Zymewire are here to help. Reach out today, and stay tuned for the next installment of the Sponsor Atlas: Discovering New Biotechs. If you enjoy these articles, please feel free to give them a share through the social links below!   

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