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Almac Discovery and Debiopharm International SA Announce a Licensing Agreement for the Development of a Novel Wee-1 Inhibitor

Published 05 July 2017 | By Almac

– Almac Discovery, a biopharmaceutical company focused on discovering and identifying innovative therapeutics for the treatment of cancer, and Debiopharm International SA, a Switzerland based speciality pharma company, today announced a collaboration to pursue the development of Almac Discovery’s Wee-1 kinase inhibitor programme.

Under the terms of the license agreement, Almac Discovery has granted exclusive global rights to its Wee-1 patent families and related subject matter expertise to Debiopharm International SA. Almac Discovery is eligible to receive an upfront payment with further development and commercial milestone payments in addition to receiving royalties from Debiopharm.

The area of DNA damage response and cell cycle regulation has seen notable activity from the pharmaceutical industry recently, including some high profile drug approvals for cell cycle kinase inhibitors. Many cancer treatments such as radiation, antimetabolites, alkylating agents, DNA topoisomerase inhibitors and platinum compounds damage DNA in cells. The cellular response is to arrest the cell cycle temporarily to allow for DNA repair, hence reducing the efficacy of chemotherapy.

The Wee-1 kinase is a key regulator of a number of cell cycle checkpoints and inhibition of Wee1 can force arrested cells through the cell cycle leading to cell death. The Almac Discovery Wee-1 inhibitors exhibit good drug-like properties, high potency, excellent selectivity and demonstrate potent anti-proliferative activity in vitro and in vivo, both as single agents and in combination with genotoxics, in several cancer models.

"We are thrilled to pursue the outstanding work of Almac Discovery on this promising target." said Dr. Bertrand Ducrey, CEO of Debiopharm International SA, who added "Almac Discovery's compelling expertise in medicinal chemistry and drug discovery is very complementary with Debiopharm business model and we look forward to developing these compounds to offer an innovative treatment for patients with high medical need."

Dr Stephen Barr, Managing Director & President, Almac Discovery commented "We are extremely pleased to announce this agreement with Debiopharm who have proven expertise and an impressive track record of developing drug candidates. The professionalism, dedication and commitment of their team is aligned perfectly with our own core values making them the number one choice to develop our Wee-1 inhibitor. Agreements of this nature enable both companies to continue to strive to improve human health worldwide and we look forward to working with them."