Artios Pharma, MD Anderson and ShangPharma Announce In-Licensing Agreement for DNA Damage Response Inhibitor

Thursday, November 07, 2019

Artios Pharma Limited (Artios), The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (MD Anderson) and ShangPharma Innovation (ShangPharma) today announce the in-licensing by Artios of a small-molecule ATR inhibitor programme, developed jointly by MD Anderson and ShangPharma.

Under the agreement, Artios has exclusive rights to research, develop, manufacture and commercialize products globally. The lead candidate is expected to be ready for Investigational New Drug (IND) application by the second half of 2020.

"This programme has the potential to be a highly effective DNA damage response (DDR) targeted treatment in cancer. We look forward to advancing the work done by MD Anderson and ShangPharma for the benefit of cancer patients," said Dr. Niall Martin, Chief Executive Officer at Artios Pharma. "The addition of the ATR programme further supports our position as a leader in the DDR space and strengthens our growing portfolio of assets, which includes a leading Polθ programme, currently in candidate IND evaluation, and a large discovery stage platform of novel DNA repair nuclease inhibitors."

The ATR inhibitor programme is the result of an extensive collaboration between MD Anderson's Therapeutics Discovery team and ShangPharma. Therapeutics Discovery is a multidisciplinary team created within MD Anderson to advance the next generation of cancer therapies to answer unmet oncology needs.

"Targeting DNA damage repair has the potential to provide an important therapeutic option for many patients in need of new treatments," said Philip Jones, Ph.D., vice president of Therapeutics Discovery at MD Anderson. "We are pleased Artios will leverage its unique expertise in this field to advance this novel therapy toward the clinic to improve outcomes for cancer patients."

ATR[1] is an important signalling protein in DNA double strand break repair and replication stress. Through inhibition of ATR, tumours bearing an ATM[2] deficiency can be selectively killed through a concept known as synthetic lethality. High levels of ATM mutations and protein loss have been characterised across many different tumour types, creating a significant opportunity for ATR inhibitors clinically. Based on clinical observations at MD Anderson, Therapeutics Discovery engaged with ShangPharma and its affiliate, ChemPartner, to develop small-molecule inhibitors of the DDR that could benefit patients across multiple cancer types.

"We are proud of the entire collaboration team, including ChemPartner, led by Sarah Lively, Ph.D., vice president of Innovation and New Technologies, for advancing the programme from early-stage research to formal drug discovery and development," said Walter Moos, Ph.D., CEO of ShangPharma Innovation. "We are pleased to transition this important programme to the capable development team at Artios, and we hope this ultimately provides an impactful therapy for those afflicted with cancer."

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