CRAIGAVON, U.K.—Almac Discovery, an independent member of the Almac Group focus on developing innovative therapeutics for the treatment of cancer, has announced a research and licensing agreement with Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, for the discovery and development of small-molecule inhibitors of a ubiquitin specific protease (USP) target.
Per the terms of the agreement, Genentech will pay Almac Discovery $14.5 million up front, and the latter will also be eligible to receive up to $349 million in milestone payments as well as escalating tiered royalties on commercial sales of multiple products to the target by Genentech.
“We’re delighted to enter into this partnership with Genentech, a like-minded research-driven organization,” Stephen Barr, president of Almac Discovery, said in a press release. “Genentech is an undoubted leader in oncology development and this, coupled with their in-depth knowledge in the USP area, is the perfect complement for us. We feel confident that Genentech is the best partner to expedite the translation of our medicinal chemistry and biology efforts into the clinic.”
“We’re pleased to initiate this collaboration with Almac Discovery, where we hope to discover and develop therapies targeting an important USP that can potentially advance the standard of care patients with cancer,” added James Sabry, senior vice president and global head of Genentech Partnering.
The two-year joint research program, which will be funded by Genentech, will start with Almac Discovery’s novel, selective small-molecule inhibitors. Genentech will assume responsibility for all preclinical and clinical development and commercialization of any products that result from this deal.
“Inhibitors of ubiquitin specific proteases have been a highly sought after yet elusive drug class, proving difficult to identify despite significant efforts from both pharmaceutical and biotech companies,” Tim Harrison, vice president of Drug Discovery at Almac Discovery, commented in a statement. “Ubiquitin specific proteases have been shown to play an important role in a number of key oncogenic pathways, and the identification of potent, selective inhibitors provides an exciting opportunity to fully exploit this novel biology, as well as further demonstrating the chemical tractability of this important target class.”
In other recent partnering news for Almac Discovery, in mid-May, the company announced an agreement with Elasmogen Ltd. to co-develop Elasmogen's soloMER technology for the treatment of solid tumors. soloMERS are humanized version of antibody-like proteins first discovered in sharks; these molecules are chemically robust and tolerate drug conjugation well. It is thought that the molecules bind specifically to cancer tissue and penetrate tumors before releasing their payload, which could offer increased efficacy as a treatment. Almac Discovery and Elasmogen will jointly manage research and development activities under the agreement and share costs, with the goal of developing a drug candidate against an undisclosed target. Almac Discovery will be responsible for commercialization.