US-based biotech company Oncoheroes Biosciences has entered a licensing agreement with Boehringer Ingelheim for the intellectual property of an investigational cancer drug, volasertib.

The deal will provide Oncoheroes with exclusive global rights to research, develop, sell and sublicense the asset.

Volasertib was discovered and developed by Boehringer. The drug inhibits the Polo-like-kinase 1 (PLK1) enzyme, which is associated with cancer progression in multiple diseases.

Boehringer was developing the candidate to treat a type of leukaemia. The company suspended clinical development after a Phase III clinical trial in adult patients did not meet primary goals.

However, independent academic groups collected data that supports the development of volasertib for rhabdomyosarcoma and other paediatric cancers.

Oncoheroes intends to develop and commercialise the drugs for cancer indications in children.

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In a joint statement, Oncoheroes Biosciences CEO Ricardo Garcia and chief operating officer Dr Cesare Spadoni said: “This is probably the first example of an investigational compound being specifically repurposed to investigate it as a treatment for a form of childhood cancer.

“We are committed to identify more such opportunities and also develop our own innovative treatments for children and adolescents with cancer.”

The company has partnered with international paediatric oncology networks and is working to commence clinical development activities.

Financial details of the licensing agreement are yet to be disclosed by the companies.

Earlier this month, Boehringer signed a licensing, development and commercialisation agreement for Indian pharmaceutical firm Lupin’s cancer asset LNP3794.

LNP3794, being developed for targeted therapy of difficult-to-treat cancers, will be assessed in combination with a Boehringer KRAS inhibitor for the treatment of gastrointestinal and lung cancers characterised by various oncogenic KRAS mutations.