US companies GenPath and Array BioPharma have formed a collaboration to focus on the development of new drugs against an undisclosed tumour maintenance gene.
The gene was discovered by GenPath and is the first drug target to come out of its discovery engine, which relies on the creation of mice engineered to carry tumour-specific genes that are commonly found in humans.
An important feature of GenPath's models is that the tumours arise spontaneously by amassing additional mutations after the activation of the original cancer gene, a situation more akin to that seen in human disease. Moreover, the mutations are controllable, allowing the development of the tumour, including the maintenance genes that allow cancers to take hold, to be investigated.
The alliance with Array takes the research a step further, according to GenPath, because the target can now be subjected to Array's drug discovery capabilities, centring on compound libraries, high-throughput screening and medicinal chemistry. Tuan Ha Ngoc, GenPath's chief executive, commented that tapping into Array's resources provides a fast-track for bringing a compound into development and clinical trials, as GenPath builds its own capabilities in this area.
Under the agreement, Array will receive research funding and be entitled to receive milestone payments based on the selection and progress of a development candidate. Other terms of the agreement were not disclosed.