Biopharmaceutical company Celgene has partnered with Canada-based drug development firm Triphase Accelerator for a preclinical drug candidate, TRPH-395, designed to treat blood cancers.
Focused on oncology, Triphase Accelerator was founded by the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR), in alliance with MaRS Innovation and MaRS.
The deal also involves Triphase’s majority shareholder FACIT, and is intended to help the company to advance its therapeutic programme into clinical proof-of-concept studies.
FACIT seed financed Propellon Therapeutics to commercialise the preclinical candidate, which targets the WDR5 protein that is associated with the formation and activity of some protein complexes related to DNA and indirectly modify genes.
Inadequate regulation of WDR5-associated protein complexes could lead to development of blood cancers such as leukaemia.
Compounds targeting these cancer-causing cellular activities are expected to offer a new approach for treatment and improving patient outcomes.
Under the terms of the deal, Celgene holds an option to buy TRPH-395 from Triphase Accelerator.
Celgene will make an upfront payment of $40m. Upon exercising the option, the company will additionally pay up to $940m in contingent development, regulatory and sales milestones.
Celgene Translational Development vice-president Jorge DiMartino said: “Our investment in Propellon’s technology reflects our commitment to developing first-in-class epigenetic therapies for patients with haematological cancers.
“The teams at OICR Drug Discovery, FACIT and Triphase Accelerator have together created an optimal pathway for oncology innovation and help make Ontario a strong collaborator and destination for our investment.”
Celgene and Triphase Accelerator have a long-standing oncology drug development partnership. In 2016, Celgene purchased assets to the latter’s proteasome inhibitor drug, called marizomib.
Earlier this month, Celgene signed a definitive merger agreement to be acquired by Bristol-Myers Squibb for a total consideration of $74bn.
The combination is set to create a speciality biopharma company focused on cancer, inflammation and immunologic diseases and cardiovascular disorders.