TOKYO, BASKING RIDGE, N.J. & DORTMUND, Germany—Some old (and new) partners have come together in a trifecta aimed at cancer research: Daiichi Sankyo Co. Ltd., Max Planck Innovation GmbH and the Lead Discovery Center GmbH. The trio has announced a cancer research collaboration, one that gives Daiichi Sankyo the option to receive exclusive rights to a new lead compound for treating cancer to be discovered and developed at the Lead Discovery Center.
Daiichi Sankyo and the Max Planck Society, supported by Max Planck Foundation, will jointly fund the respective drug discovery work at the Lead Discovery Center. Should the project demonstrate proof of concept in relevant in-vivo models, Daiichi Sankyo has exclusive rights to license the program under pre-defined terms for preclinical and clinical development. Though no financial details were disclosed, the agreement includes an upfront payment, development and sales milestones and royalties. Licensing revenues will be split between Max Planck Society, the Lead Discovery Center and contributing researchers and institutions.
“This project collaboration and option agreement is building on the excellent experiences that Daiichi Sankyo and the Lead Discovery Center previously made from a discovery alliance that started in 2014, as well as close ties and many interactions between Daiichi Sankyo and the Max Planck Society, such as the collaboration with the Axel Ullrich lab. Max Planck Innovation has been instrumental to close this partnership,” said Dr. Bert Klebl, managing director and chief scientific officer at the Lead Discovery Center.
The Lead Discovery Center is experienced in biology, medicinal chemistry, screening, antibodies and pharmacology, while Max Planck Innovation serves as the Max Planck Society’s technology transfer agency and boasts a broad international network of investors, patent attorneys and tax consultants. For its part, Daiichi Sankyo brings with it more than 100 years of scientific experience and pharmaceutical development, and a focus in multiple indications, from oncology and pain management to neurodegenerative diseases and hypertension.
The partners will combine their talents and build off of work in transcriptional regulation by Prof. Matthias Geyer at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Physiology in Dortmund and the Center of Advanced European Studies and Research in Bonn, Germany. With an eye toward that research, aided by the Lead Discovery Center’s drug discovery experience with designing highly selective kinase inhibitors, the three organizations will work together to optimize novel compounds that can target cancer cell transcription and proliferation. They also intend to expand this arrangement to eventually include additional programs.
“It is a great pleasure for us to start this research collaboration with Max Planck Innovation and the Lead Discovery Center to further generate innovation for our cancer drug discovery efforts,” Dr. Antoine Yver, executive vice president and global head of oncology research and development at Daiichi Sankyo, commented in a press release. “We are excited about the integration of Max Planck Society’s high-quality science and the Lead Discovery Center’s expertise in lead discovery into Daiichi Sankyo’s drug research and development platform.”
“The Lead Discovery Center is our prime partner for innovative drug discovery projects and developing novel compounds with a high therapeutic potential from the Max Planck Institutes. This agreement with Daiichi Sankyo, a recognized leader in the development and supply of innovative pharmaceutical products, again shows the high quality of research projects driven at the Max Planck laboratories. Moreover, the agreement is a great opportunity to advance the research findings into pharmaceutical development, providing potential new treatment options for patients with cancer,” added Dr. Matthias Stein-Gerlach, patent and licensing manager at Max Planck Innovation.
As noted on the Lead Discovery Center’s website, the organization has worked with Daiichi Sankyo in the past in “targeted disease areas, including oncology, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.” The companies have a discovery alliance that began in 2014, and according to the website, “Through an initial two-year period, LDC will identify promising targets from its academic network. Individual projects selected by Daiichi Sankyo will be screened by LDC utilizing a shared compound library of 270,000 compounds. Daiichi Sankyo will contribute by research funding as well as in-kind support granting LDC access to its Pharma Space Library. The partnership aims to generate innovative starting points for follow-up drug discovery collaboration projects.”
As for the history between the other two partners, Max Planck Innovation established the Lead Discovery Center in 2008, and the latter maintains a preferred partnership with the Max Planck Society.