It’s in the genes

EpiTherapeutics and Abbott partner on epigenetic oncology target research

Kimberely Sirk
ABBOTT PARK, III.—EpiTherapeutics and Abbott got in theholiday spirit by announcing a three-year collaboration agreement in lateDecember to develop new anti-cancer drugs by making small-molecule inhibitorsagainst carefully chosen epigenetic oncology targets.
 
Epigenetics is the study of inherited changes driven by thedifferential expression of genes through mechanisms other than changes in theunderlying DNA sequence. Cancer epigenetics is a rapidly emerging research areawith the potential to help find pathbreaking treatments for patients bymodifying DNA and chromatin, both of which play a role in tumor development.
 
The types of cancers to stalk have not yet been determined,says Tracy Sorrentino of Abbott's public affairs department.
 
"The choice of targets will be based on the expertise andinterests of both parties," Sorrentino says. "A collaborative research programwill guide target selection."
 
As a result of the research pact, EpiTherapeutics receivescash upfront and additional support to fund research the company is currentlyundertaking. Milestone payments are also part of the deal and royalties are apossibility several years down the road. Research activities related to the newcollaboration will be conducted at both EpiTherapeutics and at Abbott.
Additional financial details were not disclosed.
 
"We are very pleased with our drug discovery collaborationwith Abbott, which brings tremendous expertise in the oncology field," commentsDr. Martin Bonde, EpiTherapeutics' CEO, in a prepared statement. "Abbott'schoice of EpiTherapeutics as a collaboration partner is recognition of ourcompetencies within epigenetic biology and early drug discovery."
 
Sorrentino adds that this deal dovetails perfectly withAbbott's scientific philosophy.
 
"Part of Abbott's research and development strategy is tocomplement our internal strengths with external expertise," Sorrentino says."Abbott brings expertise in drug discovery and EpiTherapeutics brings expertisein the biology of epigenetics—the goal of this partnership is to accelerate thedevelopment of new cancer treatments."
 
"We look forward to a fruitful collaboration with the aim ofdeveloping new anti-cancer drugs within the promising new area of epigenetics,"comments Bonde.
 
"Abbott's oncology research is focused on the discovery anddevelopment of targeted, less toxic therapies that work against the processescancers need to survive," says James Sullivan, vice president of pharmaceuticaldiscovery at Abbott, in a prepared statement. "The varied nature of the cancer requires a diverse approachlooking at multiple disease targets in different tumor types, and we lookforward to working with EpiTherapeutics to accelerate our development of newanti-cancer drugs."
 
EpiTherapeutics is a biopharmaceutical company developingnovel innovative cancer drugs based on research in the field of epigenetics.The company was founded in October 2008 by Prof. Kristian Helin and colleaguesfrom the Biotech Research and Innovation Centre at the University ofCopenhagen, Denmark. Helin and his research group are considered among theworld leaders in the field of basic oncology research and involved in thediscovery of various epigenetic enzymes as well as their role in humandiseases, including oncology.
 
EpiTherapeutics, in its short history, has compiled a stronginvestor base consisting of Novo Seeds, SEED Capital Denmark, LundbeckfondVentures, OSI Pharmaceuticals and Merck Serono Ventures.
 
Abbott is a global, broad-based healthcare company devotedto the discovery, development, manufacture and marketing of pharmaceuticals andmedical products, including nutritionals, devices and diagnostics. The companyemploys nearly 90,000 people and markets its products in more than 130countries.

Kimberely Sirk

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