Touchstone Innovations' portfolio company, Artios Pharma Ltd., a leading DNA Damage Response (DDR) business 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.”