Moffitt teams with FORMA to investigate HDACs

The agreement includes the conduct of joint research studies and exploration into novel targets and epigenetic mechanisms

Kelsey Kaustinen
TAMPA, Fla. & WATERTOWN, Mass.—Moffitt Cancer Center, along with FORMA Therapeutics, has announced a collaborative research initiative and exclusive license option agreement centered on histone deacetylases (HDACs) and epigenetics. Per the terms of the agreement, FORMA’s drug discovery team will work alongside Moffitt’s clinical and translational scientists in an open-access business framework.
 
“We are privileged to be strategic partners with Moffitt, one of only 41 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the United States. This team validates the molecular signatures in tumors to support the development of personalized therapeutics,” Steven Tregay, Ph.D., president and CEO of FORMA Therapeutics, noted in a statement. “Our collaboration with Moffitt enables us to efficiently match our drugs to the right patients and realize a precision medicine approach to cancer drug development.”
 
The partners will focus on exploring the mechanisms of action and differentiation profiles of potential therapeutic drug candidates in hopes of providing insight into treating relevant patients with HDAC modulators. The new alliance includes the conduct of joint research studies as well as exploration into novel targets and emerging epigenetic mechanisms through “Moffitt Innovative Studies.” No financial details were released.
 
“The internal scientific ecosystem Moffitt has built integrates a broad array of disciplines including immune regulation, epigenetic control, tumor metastasis and translational genomics. Further, Moffitt’s organizational structure as a multidisciplinary team of basic scientists, physician-scientists, clinicians and hematopathologists, operating within a functional matrix team to explore HDAC biology, drove FORMA’s interest in a partnership. We are pleased to expand FORMA’s community of external scientists to include Moffitt as a cornerstone network member,” said Rob Sarisky, Ph.D., chief business officer at FORMA Therapeutics.
 
Ed Seto, Ph.D., senior member of the Department of Molecular Oncology, and Eduardo M. Sotomayor, M.D., Susan and John Sykes Endowed Chair in Hematologic Malignancies and senior member and chair of the Department of Malignant Hematology, will co-lead the alliance at Moffitt.
 
“It is extremely rewarding to partner with the FORMA Therapeutics team and collectively influence the discovery and translational development of future therapeutic medicines. FORMA’s selection of Moffitt for this expansive partnership was based on our assemblage of renowned clinical researchers with broad knowledge in HDAC biology and proven clinical research expertise at the forefront of the oncology-immune-epigenetic axis,” said Sotomayor.
 
This initiative will provide access to in-vitro and in-vivo biological systems and anonymized patient samples for functional profiling. Moffitt and FORMA researchers will work to identify and characterize non-histone HDAC substrates to determine the role of selective HDAC inhibitors on immune and cancer cell function and explore their bioactivity in relevant disease models.
 
“Our relationship with Moffitt provides the opportunity to significantly accelerate understanding of the clinical application for highly selective histone deacetylase modulators, enzymes involved in histone acetylation and transcriptional regulation, as well as other key epigenetic and immune control factors,” added Kenneth W. Bair, Ph.D., chief scientific officer and head of Research and Development for FORMA Therapeutics. “This unique opportunity to probe the pathophysiological contributions of target-selective compounds across related molecular pathways in a disease-relevant setting will guide our creation of breakthrough drugs.”
 
SOURCE: Moffitt Cancer Center press release

Kelsey Kaustinen

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