Researchers at Bradford University are getting closer to securing the £3 million funding needed to start clinical trials on their revolutionary tumour-blasting ‘smart bomb’ cancer treatment.

Incanthera Ltd, set up by staff at the University's Institute of Cancer Therapeutics, has conquered the “notoriously difficult” task of finding investors and has teamed up with Technomark Life Sciences to prepare for tests on ICT2588 – a new chemical entity designed to attack all forms of solid tumours while leaving healthy tissue unharmed.

The cost-saving treatment, which uses highly-toxic drugs to attack tumours and can improve life expectancy, is due to begin trials at St James’s Hospital in Leeds this year.

As well as securing an undisclosed sum of cash from Technomark, the business, which is now based in Merseyside, has also gained £450,000 investment from SPARK Impact, managers of the North West Fund for Biomedical, and has raised more than £200,000 of funding from people who want to improve the chances of surviving cancer.

Incanthera’s chief executive Dr Simon Ward said: “I am delighted to have struck this first commercial deal for the company. ICT2588 is now being recognised by the industry as a serious and appealing new drug opportunity and we hope to now move rapidly to the clinic. I am particularly pleased to have Technomark as a investor and partner in these early stages of the development, as they appreciate and provide a solution to the prevailing investor-shy commitment to pre-clinical work, without which no new drugs would ever make it to the patient.” The cancer treating drug, developed at Bradford University, is inactive until triggered by the activity of an enzyme found in tumours.

It releases a potent anti-cancer agent which destroys the tumour’s blood vessels, causing it to starve to death. Because the enzyme is only active in tumours, the drug is unlikely to have any side effects on healthy tissue.

Allen Hakimi, Technomark’s CEO, said: “We see Incanthera as a very exciting company in our portfolio, not only because of its novel drug candidate, but also because we intend to participate in the clinical program as part of a long term relationship.”

Dr Penny Attridge, senior investment director from SPARK Impact, added: “Incanthera has achieved fantastic success in a relatively short space of time.

“This investment from Technomark, as part of this current investment round, bears testament to its clear strategy and excellent team.”