Cancer Research UK, LifeArc, Ono Pharma establish new drug discovery alliance

Cancer Research UK has entered into a multi-year partnership with LifeArc and Ono Pharmaceutical to identify new immunotherapy drug targets for cancer.

The multimillion-pound drug discovery alliance will bring together Cancer Research UK’s network of scientists and drug discovery expertise, LifeArc’s therapeutic antibody engineering and development expertise and Ono’s expertise in developing cancer immunotherapies.

Cancer Research UK’s Therapeutic Discovery director Dr Hamish Ryder said: “This unique alliance is a melting pot of world-leading cancer research and each organisation’s extensive expertise in oncology drug discovery.”

The partnership will work on identifying targets to develop both antibody and small molecule therapeutics.

Supported by multimillion pound investment from Ono and LifeA, the drug discovery experts will pursue targets within Cancer Research UK’s portfolio of immuno-oncology research.

The new partnership is based on existing alliance between Cancer Research UK and LifeArc, which was established in 2017.

Ono’s investment and expertise will facilitate to identify new therapeutic targets, enhance target validation within the alliance, in addition to supporting validated targets across the drug discovery phase.

As per terms of the deal, LifeArc will use its antibody screening and development expertise to advance antibody projects. Cancer Research UK’s Therapeutic Discovery Labs will progress the small molecule projects.

Ono is provided with an option to license the outputs of the alliance, and will also hold worldwide exclusive rights for the clinical development and commercialization of successful projects.

Cancer Research UK and LifeArc are eligible to secure an upfront access fee for entering the alliance. They will also receive additional upfront, milestone and royalty payments for licensed projects.

Ono 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 commercialized by us throughout the world and fulfil unmet medical needs.”

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