Evotec has formed spin-off company Breakpoint Therapeutics to focus on the development of its DNA damage response (DDR) portfolio.

The transitioned portfolio comprises discovery-stage assets and drug targets with potential applications in cancer treatments.

Breakpoint Therapeutics will work towards developing drugs that block DNA repair and replication stress pathways to address therapy-resistant cancers.

DDR is a signalling pathway that allows cells to identify and respond to damage affecting their DNA. Many existing cancer treatments are designed to trigger DNA damage to cause cancer cell death. However, several cancers possess genetic alterations of DDR pathways and become treatment-resistant.

Modulation of DDR is expected help develop new treatments for cancer patients that do not respond or have side effects to existing methods.

Breakpoint Therapeutics managing director Dr Daniel Speidel said: “Drugs that modulate DNA damage responses hold great promise for many cancer patients that do not respond to currently existing treatments and are indeed among the most exciting new approaches to improve the success of cancer therapy.

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“Given that so many people still die of cancer, it is absolutely vital that we turn relevant scientific concepts into new effective drugs. This is what Breakpoint Therapeutics is all about.”

Breakpoint Therapeutics will initially advance various Evotec-initiated drug discovery programmes meant for patients with high unmet medical needs. It intends to speed up the discovery and pre-clinical development phases of early programmes to launch an investigational new drug (IND) ready product by 2022.

The company is receiving initial funding of €30m from a consortium led by investment firm Medicxi, Taiho Pharmaceutical’s venture capital arm Taiho Ventures and Evotec.

Evotec will hold less than 50% of the company and consolidate at equity accordingly.

In 2016, Evotec formed a spin-off company called Topas Therapeutics to develop nanoparticle-based therapeutics for the treatment of immunological disorders.