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Flamingo and Ionis (US) take quantum leap for cancer research

“We are taking a quantum leap,” says Floor Stam, Chief Operations Officer at Flamingo. The young biotech company from Flanders has just entered an important partnership with American Ionis Pharmaceuticals. Together, they will continue their groundbreaking research into new therapies for untreatable cancers.

Scientists examines DNA models in modern Genetic Research Laboratory. Computer monitors with data in foreground

Setting the pace in RNA technology

Flamingo was founded in 2020 as a spin-off of VIB, the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology, and two of Flanders’ prominent universities, KU Leuven and UGent. Today, the company takes a major step forward. How? Through the expansion of its strategic partnership with American company Ionis Pharmaceuticals. Ionis is a worldwide leader in the development of messenger RNA (mRNA) drugs, one of the most promising medical technologies today.

Promising game changer in cancer treatment

Flamingo will be taking over four research programs from Ionis, one of which focuses on mRNA. That's a type of RNA that prompts cells to make proteins that stimulate cancer cells to grow unchecked. This kind of research is still in the preclinical phase. But it promises to be an attractive pathway for new drug development.

"Little is known about non-coding RNA. But it represents a high class of innovative therapeutic targets."
Floor Stam, Chief Operations Officer at Flamingo

The mRNA program is a perfect match for Flamingo, which initially was founded to develop promising therapeutics involving non-coding mRNA molecules. In doing so, the company is building on groundbreaking research by professors Pieter Mestdagh (Cancer Research Institute Ghent and UGent) and Jean-Christophe Marine (VIB and KU Leuven). Their research resolves around the link between a particular lncRNA molecule and one of the most aggressive types of skin cancer.

There’s talk of going public

Flamingo currently employs eight people in its headquarters and research labs in Belgium. However, the team is expanding rapidly. Floor Stam: "We are a highly international company. But the link with Flanders is very important, because there is so much knowledge here." For the biotech start-up, the alliance with Ionis should really help pick up the pace.

“In one fell swoop, we go from early-stage biotech to clinical biotech.”
Floor Stam, Chief Operations Officer at Flamingo

To gear up for clinical development, the right infrastructure has to be in place. But this comes at a cost. Therefore, the company is planning a significant capital round still to come in 2021. At first, Flamingo will be looking for private funds. In the next phase, the company will investigate a possible IPO.

Learn more about Flanders’ innovative pharmaceutical industry.

More info

FlamingoIonis Pharmaceuticals
Reported by
De Tijd newspaper
16 November 2021

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