Cambridge, UK, 12 June 2017. Artios Pharma Ltd., a leading DNA Damage Response (DDR) company developing innovative new treatments for cancer, today announces it has signed a research collaboration and option agreement with Masaryk University (“MU”) in the Czech Republic for the development of novel cancer treatments targeting DNA nucleases involved in the DDR.
DNA nucleases are key enzymes responsible for processing strands of DNA following damage. Present in all cell types, nucleases are some of the first enzyme mediators recruited to the site of DNA damage in cells and play crucial roles in various DNA repair pathways ensuring stability of the genome. Artios believes that nuclease inhibitors could have broad potential as selective treatments for a range of cancers, particularly in tumours that have defects in their DNA repair processes and are reliant on their remaining nuclease-dependent DDR pathways. The opportunity may also exist to use nuclease inhibitors in combination with other cancer therapies, including standard of care treatments such as ionizing radiation, and potentially together with emerging therapies such as immuno-oncology treatments.
The research at MU is being led by Dr Lumir Krejci and Dr Kamil Paruch, both of whom have considerable scientific expertise in the field of DDR, particularly with regards to the role of nucleases in DNA double strand break repair and other DNA repair pathways, as well as valuable industry experience in medicinal chemistry and drug development of nuclease targets.
Under the terms of the agreement, Artios will fund and collaborate with the research group at MU to undertake a focussed research and development programme on a number of promising nuclease targets. The agreement, which runs initially for two years and can be extended for up to a further two years, provides Artios with the opportunity to in-license one or more nuclease programmes for further development and commercialisation.
Commenting on today’s announcement, Dr Niall Martin, Chief Executive Officer at Artios Pharma, said: “We are pleased to announce this strategic research collaboration with Masaryk University to translate the promising research of Drs Krejci and Paruch in the field of DDR nucleases into potential new treatments for cancer. Artios is making great progress in building a portfolio of highly novel DDR programmes and this collaboration will help to further establish Artios as a leader in the DDR field.”
Dr Lumir Krejci, the principal investigator on DDR nucleases at Masaryk University, said: “We are delighted that Artios has selected our nuclease research programme as one of its focus areas. Artios has a highly experienced team with a proven track record of translating DDR drug discovery research into the clinic, and its expertise and focus will prove invaluable in progressing the development of our novel state-of-the-art nuclease inhibitors. We believe nucleases have the potential to provide a new wave of innovative DDR-based cancer therapies.”
For more information about Artios Pharma Ltd., please contact:
Artios Pharma Ltd.
Dr Niall Martin, Chief Executive Officer
Dr Nick Staples, Chief Business Officer
Tel: +44 (0)12 2380 4180
Consilium Strategic Communications
Mary-Jane Elliott, Lindsey Neville, Melissa Gardiner
Tel: +44 (0)20 3709 5700
About Artios Pharma Ltd.
Artios is a leading DNA Damage Response (DDR) company focused on developing first-in-class treatments for cancer. Established in May 2016, the Company is led by an experienced scientific and leadership team with proven expertise in DDR drug discovery. Artios is building a pipeline of next-generation DDR programmes, including through a unique partnership with Cancer Research Technology (CRT), the development and commercialisation arm of Cancer Research UK (CRUK), and with leading DNA repair researchers worldwide. The Company’s investors include SV Health Investors, Merck Ventures, Touchstone Innovations, Arix Bioscience plc, CRT Pioneer Fund (managed by Sixth Element Capital), and AbbVie Ventures. Artios is based at the Babraham Research Campus in Cambridge, UK.
About Masaryk University
Masaryk University, located in Brno, is the second-largest public university in the Czech Republic. At present it comprises nine faculties with over 200 departments, institutes and clinics. Recognised as one of the most important teaching and research institutions in the Czech Republic and a highly-regarded Central European university, it has been infused with a strong democratic spirit ever since its establishment in 1919. One of Masaryk University’s top priorities is scientific research. In addition to attaining a leading position in research grant competitions, the university has made considerable financial investments – especially at its newly erected campus – in order to enhance research and teaching capacity, facilitate the development of tools for the transfer of knowledge and improve support for research and innovation.
About DNA Damage Response (DDR)
DNA damage, which occurs in cells throughout the body every day, can result in mutations and ultimately cell death if not repaired correctly. Cells therefore possess a network of DNA repair pathways, together known as the DNA Damage Response (DDR), to correct the damage. Cancer cells which have typically lost or down-regulated some of their DNA repair pathways, rely on alternative, often upregulated DNA repair pathways to repair the ongoing DNA damage required for cell survival. DDR targeted cancer treatments aim to kill these cancer cells by inhibiting such DNA repair pathway(s) such that the burden of DNA damage becomes lethal, while sparing healthy cells which continue to be able to repair their DNA. In this way, DDR inhibitors have the potential to act as single agent therapies that selectively kill tumour cells in cancers with certain repair defects. However, they can also be used as potentiating agents to DNA damaging agents and radiotherapy, and potentially in combination with novel therapies including immune-oncology treatments.
DNA nucleases are a family of enzymes which cleave strands of DNA. Universally present in cells, a number of nucleases play a crucial role in DNA repair by recognising sites of damage and cleaving them from the surrounding DNA. Nucleases participate in various DNA repair processes essential for genome maintenance, which involve DNA replication, base excision repair, nucleotide excision repair, mismatch repair, and double strand break repair.