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Q&A

with Nick Keen,

Chief Scientific Officer

What brought you to Bicycle, and can you give us an outline of your role?
The science at Bicycle is so exciting and, I think, has the potential to transform the field of oncology in the coming years. There is also the transatlantic element. I grew up in the UK and studied at the University of Cambridge in the UK, but I have lived in the Boston area for 16 years. Bicycle allows me to work with incredible teams based in both these locations.

I currently serve as Chief Scientific Officer for Bicycle, based mostly in Lexington, MA. I have responsibility for preclinical science in the company, working with a brilliant team. I also spend time talking to potential collaborators and explaining what Bicycles are, and the potential of the work that we do.  I help set strategy, particularly in oncology, a field in which I have worked for 20+ years, and, in addition, I spend a lot of time working on potential external partnerships. Bicycles aren’t like antibodies or small molecules; they are novel. Many people don’t know what Bicycles are or recognize their potential right away. I enjoy explaining our science and why it’s exciting to potential collaborators.

What makes Bicycle different from other companies in the sector?
Very few companies have a potentially ground-breaking technology that is all their own, and so I think Bicycle has the potential to be a genuine pioneer in the biotech industry. We also believe we have a duty to try to use that ground-breaking technology to deliver potential product candidates to patients. It’s a privilege to be a part of that mission. If our ongoing and future clinical trials are successful and our product candidates receive regulatory approval, I believe Bicycles could revolutionise cancer therapy.

We understand you presented at AACR earlier this year, which garnered a lot of interest. Can you briefly tell us why it was exciting?
AACR is one of the premier cancer meetings worldwide, and it was my honour to be able to present to my peers about our work. I took part in the New Drugs on the Horizon section, which is one of the most sought-after slots. The fact Bicycle was selected demonstrates how academically unique our science is. I presented on BT7480 to over 2000 virtual attendees. Usually, this meeting would only have a few hundred attending because of the physical constrains on space, but thanks to the virtual nature of the conference, the audience was far greater. The presentation was widely well received, and this was due to the impressive data that was prepared by the Bicycle team.

Where do you see Bicycle in 5 years’ time?
I believe Bicycle has the potential to become a major biopharmaceutical company, which would be a success story for both the US and UK biotech industries. Very few companies make it through the entire journey from academic founding to commercialization of impactful products, and I believe Bicycle has the potential to go the whole way.  Outside of oncology, which is where our current clinical trials are focused, I can also see us continuing to collaborate with some major players to run programmes in a number of different therapeutic areas.

How did the COVID-19 pandemic affect company operations?
Because the company is based on both sides of the Atlantic, we were pretty prepared for working remotely and virtually, but it was incredibly tough not to be able to see all our colleagues in person. Despite the challenges, I think we have achieved a remarkable amount over the past year and a half. While we’ve been placing the safety of Bicycle employees at the heart of everything we do, our lab staff have been enormously productive. We’ve grown substantially in terms of headcount, and I think we’ve done well integrating new people into the company considering the circumstances. It is a real privilege to work for a company that is doing something different than anything else out there.

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