Scientist looking at molecular model — Image by © Kristopher Grunert/Corbis

In what I would personally term, as one of Mr. Tata’s most noteworthy investments so far, the Tata Sons Chairman Emeritus has infused an undisclosed amount into therapeutic cancer treatment startup Invictus oncology. This marks the second investment announcement in a day, and fifth within this year, for Tata.

And before we go on to talk to about Ratan Tata’s investments so far, lets get to what an incredible company he has invested in — Invictus. Why incredible you ask ? How about this — the startup has developed an anti-cancer drug, which when available in the market, would help in drastically reducing a cancer tumour’s immune system — the same system which helps it sustain within the body and prolong the deadly disease.

Invictus Oncology utilises a supramolecular technology platform to design anti-cancer drugs that home into the tumour, and modulate the tumour immune response. The company claims that its lead molecule, IO 125, has already been validated in multiple cancer models, and is poised to enter IND-enabling studies to obtain US Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) approval for initiating clinical studies.

For Invictus, this will be a Series A round. The company had previously raised close to $1.6 Million from T V Mohandas Pai, Aarin Capital and Navam Capital.

Talking about the current investment, Co-Founder Raghunath A. Mashelkar says,

I have admired Ratan Tata’s insights and astute assessment of technology for decades now, So I am thrilled he has invested in Invictus, which is not just developing ground-breaking innovations for cancer treatment, but is also among the very first startups based out of India to tread the path of novel discovery and biotech innovation.

The synthetic chemistry team at Invictus harnesses the full potential of platinum-based drugs used as first line of therapy in over 70 percent of all cancers. These novel platinum-based drugs are engineered using structure activity relationships for increased efficacy with reduced side effects.

Invictus says, that it has a ‘deep pipeline of molecules’, which address a $20 billion market opportunity in the oncology space. These include several crucial drug categories, including something as complex as Anti-Body Drug Conjugates.

Antibody Drug Conjugates (ADCs) represent a promising therapeutic strategy for tumor-specific drug delivery, sparing healthy tissues. Invictus is developing a portfolio of ADC’s based on its proprietary linker chemistry.

Invictus’ vision is to provide novel insights into the genetic mechanisms behind rare and prevalent cancers among Indian patients and also use this information to design better therapeutics. Analyses of genetic variants causative to the disease will facilitate in determining individuals at risk for a particular cancer type and identify potential targets for therapeutic purposes. The sequence and genomics-based diagnostics pipeline will be implemented in collaboration with leading medical Institutions in India.


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