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Biotech startup Flamingo merges with French sector peer

Flamingo Therapeutics, a Flanders-based startup that specializes in the development of cancer therapies, is joining forces with French biotech firm Dynacure. The merged company will combine Flamingo’s expertise in oncological research with Dynacure’s clinical expertise. By mid-2023, it plans to start testing its most advanced medicine, an RNA-targeted treatment for head and neck cancer, in patients in the US.

Spinoff from Flanders’ knowledge institutions

Flamingo Therapeutics was founded in 2020 as a spinoff of VIB (Flanders’ strategic research center for biotech and life sciences) and two of Flanders’ universities: KU Leuven and UGent. After the merger with Dynacure, the company will employ some 25 people under the leadership of former Dynacure CEO Stéphane van Rooijen. He will be assisted by former Flamingo CEO Michael Garrett, who will become operations director.

“This is a merger of equals,” van Rooijen points out. “The existing shareholders of both businesses remain on board.” The merged company is backed by a mix of European and American venture capital funds. Meanwhile, Flanders’ public investment company PMV and Paris-based Kurma Partners, two current investors of Flamingo Therapeutics, will channel additional funds into the newly merged company.

Because of the ties between Flamingo and Dynacure and the fact that we both use the same technology from Ionis Pharmaceuticals, we saw potential synergies. While Dynacure has more expertise in clinical research, Flamingo has been developing various promising cancer treatments.

Stéphane van Rooijen
CEO of Flamingo Therapeutics

RNA-targeted therapies

Flamingo is developing cancer therapies that inhibit RNA. RNA molecules contain pieces of genetic code and often serve to make proteins. Errors present in this genetic code can cause too little or too much of a protein to be made. Some RNA types lead to the production of proteins that encourage cancer cells to grow rampantly.

The merged company plans to launch a phase 2 study in the US in mid-2023 with the most advanced drug it currently has been working on: a treatment for head and neck cancer. “The results are expected for 2025,” says van Rooijen.

Treating solid tumors

Flamingo also plans a phase 1 study with a treatment for solid tumors. This treatment targets non-coding RNA, functional RNA molecules that are not translated into proteins. It has recently become clear that these types of molecules play a role in disease pathogenesis, for example in adapting cancer cells to greater energy requirements when they are dividing uninhibitedly. In 2020, Flamingo Therapeutics was founded to work on precisely this type of non-coding molecules.

Part of a diverse life sciences & health ecosystem

Flamingo Therapeutics is just one of the many start-ups and other companies that make Flanders’ business and research ecosystem for life sciences & health so successful. Want to unravel this ecosystem in a virtual yet interactive way? Head to the Flanders360 platform and discover 300+ successful companies, universities, R&D centers, incubators and other players active in Flanders’ life sciences & health industry.

Check out our industry overview to learn more about the available tax, legal and other incentives for establishing your life sciences & health hub in Flanders.

More info

Flamingo Therapeutics
Reported by
newspaper De Tijd
7 March 2023

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