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Drug discovery with strong inflection
July 2013
by Lori Lesko  |  Email the author
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DUBLIN, Ireland—Aimed at developing small-molecule therapeutics for the treatment of cancer, Inflection Biosciences Ltd. has entered into a license agreement with the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO) of Madrid, Spain, for the exclusive, worldwide rights to develop and commercialize several novel kinase inhibitors.  
 
Based in Dublin and London, Inflection Biosciences is creating a pipeline of innovative cancer treatments through alliances with leading cancer research organizations, according to the company. The small, privately held company's pipeline includes novel PIM kinase inhibitors and multitargeting kinase inhibitors in preclinical development.  
 
A perfect fit for the Spanish CNIO, the compounds leverage the CNIO's expertise in drug discovery and all molecules "have shown good activity in preclinical models and are orally-available with excellent pharmaceutical properties," the company states.
 
"Following an extensive global search we are delighted to have secured assets in late preclinical stages of development of this quality and potential, and from an organization recognized internationally for the quality of its cancer research and its drug discovery programs," Michael O'Neill, co-founder and director of research and development at Inflection Biosciences, stated in a news release.  
 
Renowned cancer researcher, Dr. María Blasco, director of CNIO, added, "It is a great satisfaction for the CNIO to join forces with the experienced team at Inflection Biosciences, allowing us to take full advantage of our ability to innovate cancer treatments."  
 
The agreement calls for Inflection Biosciences and CNIO to collaborate on additional preclinical studies. Inflection Biosciences will have the responsibility for nominating lead candidates for future development.  
 
Inflection Biosciences also announced that it has secured its first financing round from a private investor and from Enterprise Ireland. The funds raised will primarily be used to advance the company's development pipeline.  
 
"We are grateful to our investors for sharing our vision to make a real contribution to the development of important new treatments for patients suffering with cancer," Darren Cunningham, co-founder and CEO of Inflection Biosciences, stated in a news release. The deal was made "following a two-year review of over 150 cancer development programs from leading research institutes around the world," Cunningham tells DDNEWS. The agreement with CNIO gave Inflection Biosciences the "worldwide rights to develop and commercialize potentially groundbreaking cancer therapeutics currently in late preclinical stages of development.
 
"The programs licensed are kinase inhibitors, an important new class of targeted therapy that interfere with specific cell signaling pathways and thus allow target-specific therapy for selected cancers," Cunningham says. "Kinase inhibitors are associated with lower attrition rates in clinical development, demonstrating further the benefits of developing molecularly targeted therapeutics for cancer."  
 
Examples of successful targeted kinase inhibitors include Novartis' Gleevec, which generates annual revenues in excess of $4 billion worldwide, he says. The current agreement calls for both Inflection and CNIO to conduct final preclinical studies in the coming months.  
 
Inflection Biosciences also partners with "leading and reputable international oncology-focused contract research organizations to support its development requirements for the programs as it prepares for first in human studies," Cunningham says. Inflection Biosciences will team up with a larger pharmaceutical company over the next three to five years to support late stage clinical development, he adds.  
 
"There is a significant demand by larger pharmaceutical companies for innovative cancer therapeutics as this area of oncology generates more deal flow than any other in the industry, all driven by the major unmet medical needs in cancer," Cunningham notes. "It is widely reported that the traditional Big Pharma model, which relied significantly on internal discovery of blockbusters, is no longer as effective and requires overhaul." Many of the larger pharmaceutical companies "have announced closures of major in-house discovery and research facilities and placed a greater emphasis on licensing in innovation," he adds. "This offers good opportunities for small companies with the right assets to partner with larger pharma companies."
 
Code: E071307

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