Cancer Research UK (CRUK) has partnered with Japanese drugmaker Ono Pharmaceutical and not-for-profit LifeArc to identify new immunotherapy drug targets for cancer.

The multi-year drug discovery partnership will focus on targets for antibody and small molecule therapeutics. Targets will be identified within Cancer Research UK’s immuno-oncology portfolio.

It will combine CRUK’s scientists network and expertise in drug discovery with Ono’s cancer immunotherapies development capabilities as well as LifeArc’s therapeutic antibody engineering and development expertise.

Ono and LifeArc have committed investment to support the alliance. In addition, Ono will provide support for target validation and advancing the validated targets through the drug discovery phase.

LifeArc will be responsible for the antibody projects, while CRUK’s Therapeutic Discovery Labs will take up the small molecule programmes.

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By GlobalData
“CRUK hope that this partnership will accelerate the development of new treatments, bringing them to patients with cancer much faster.”

Therapeutic Discovery Labs director Dr Hamish Ryder said: “As we enter into a new age of immuno-therapeutic approaches to cancer care, we hope that this partnership will accelerate the development of new treatments, bringing them to patients with cancer much faster.”

Under the terms of the deal, Ono will hold option rights to licence the products resulting from the collaboration, with worldwide exclusive rights to carry out clinical development and commercialisation.

In turn, CRUK and LifeArc will get an upfront access fee for participating in the alliance, along with additional upfront, milestone and royalty payments related to licensed projects.

Ono Pharmaceutical Discovery and Research corporate officer and executive director Dr Toichi Takino said: “We are very pleased to join in the successful collaboration between Cancer Research UK and LifeArc and we believe that we together will successfully identify novel drug candidates for new cancer treatment in the immuno-oncology field, which will be further developed and commercialised by us throughout the world and fulfil unmet medical needs.”

CRUK and LifeArc previously partnered in 2017 to identify drug discovery targets for new immunotherapies. The new alliance expands this partnership.