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Debiopharm selects CRO Evotec for early cancer drug discovery deal

By Zachary Brennan , 08-Apr-2014

CRO Evotec AG will help Debiopharm identify and develop novel compounds with the potential to treat multiple forms of solid tumours and leukaemias with defined genetic alterations under a collabortation announced today.

Discovery and preclinical development efforts will be driven by Evotec, while Debiopharm will manage clinical development. Evotec will receive R&D funding and high double-digit total payments triggered by clinical, regulatory and commercial milestones, plus royalties on sales of resulting commercial products.

This programme is based on Evotec’s drug discovery efforts to investigate genetically altered targets whose ‘driver’ role in several cancer types has been validated and to identify novel therapeutic agents in a variety of cancers, including AML (Acute Myeloid Leukaemia), prostate cancer and glioblastoma. Evotec brings to the table a range of drug discovery tools including mass spectrometry and structure-based drug design.

The term of the contract is defined by the time it takes to advance the project through preclinical and clinical development,” Evotec spokesman Gabriele Hansen told Outsourcing-pharma.com.

“The deal represents “a novel genetically mechanism for cancer treatment that could be effective alone or in combination with other chemotherapeutic agents,” Hansen said.

We continue to explore creative ways to advance our TargetX/CureX (EvotecX) initiatives into more advanced stages of clinical development,” he added. “In collaboration with pharma and biotech companies, Evotec is pursuing a fairly broad and increasingly diversified pipeline of clinical stage drug candidates.

Hansen added that: “This latest collaboration with Debiopharm is another example that seamlessly integrates capabilities while sharing risk and rewards. This single target program is a member of Evotec’s Innovate oncology portfolio.”

Technology deals

Debiopharm, which also recently selected Cenix’s RNAi screening technology , is experienced in taking to maturity promising early-stage biological or small molecule drug candidates from pre-clinical to clinical development, including subsequent out-licensing to pharmaceutical partners for sales and marketing.

Dr Cord Dohrmann, Chief Scientific Officer of Evotec, said the collaboration “combines our proven discovery platform with Debiopharm’s ability to advance projects through clinical development in a highly efficient manner while sharing risks and rewards of Evotec’s Target X project. There is compelling science around the target and we are confident that we will be able to position highly competitive compounds in this field that hold great potential for difficult to treat cancers.”

Some indicate that this deal might show what future collaborations will look like for sponsors and CROs.

This is a fine example of how drug discovery and development will be in the future: a mixture of complementarities looking to bring to a defined population of patients a drug that will change the outcome of disease,” added Andrés McAllister, Chief Scientific Officer of Debiopharm. 

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