AstraZeneca has partnered with Accent Therapeutics for the discovery, development and commercialisation of new medicines to treat cancer.

The partners aim for therapeutics that act on RNA-modifying proteins (RMPs), believed to be associated with process disruptions that cause cancer and resistance to drugs.

AstraZeneca will combine its expertise in oncology medicines with Accent’s capabilities in the biology, target identification and drug discovery of RMP-targeting therapeutics.

AstraZeneca Oncology R&D executive vice-president José Baselga said: “The promise of RMP inhibition is a compelling area of exploration for AstraZeneca. With this collaboration, we will seek to identify novel targets and unlock the full potential of our medicines.

“We believe that the Accent team’s expertise in RNA-modifying protein biology and drug discovery complements AstraZeneca’s extensive research and development portfolio.”

As part of the collaboration agreement, Accent Therapeutics will perform research and development activities for a selected preclinical programme until the end of Phase I clinical trials.

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After completion of Phase I, AstraZeneca will be responsible for the development and commercialisation activities of the programme, while Accent has an option to join for activities in the US.

In addition, AstraZeneca will have an exclusive option to licence global rights to two additional preclinical discovery programmes, for which Accent will carry out some preclinical activities.

Accent Therapeutics CEO Shakti Narayan said: “This collaboration leverages both AstraZeneca’s vast cancer expertise and resources and Accent’s rich pipeline of RMP therapeutic programmes to bring new and potentially life-changing medicines to patients.

“This collaborative effort will enable us to rapidly advance and achieve the rich therapeutic potential of these exciting programmes.”

Under the agreement, Accent will receive an upfront payment of $55m, eligible for success-based payments related to all programmes, along with sales royalties.

If Accent decides to jointly develop and commercialise the selected programme in the US, profits and losses will be shared among the partners.

In April, AstraZeneca signed an agreement with the University of Oxford to develop and distribute the university’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate.