Medivir, a research-based pharmaceutical company based in Sweden, and Cancer Research Technology (CRT), Cancer Research U.K.’s commercialization and development arm, have partnered to develop a new class of drugs that has shown promise for treating a range of different cancers, including pancreatic cancer.
CRT and Medivir will conduct a two-year research program to optimize and develop small molecules targeting the cell surface protein ADAM8, which has been linked to tumor survival, cell invasion and metastasis.
Medivir will receive an exclusive, global license to research, develop, manufacture and commercialize ADAM8 inhibitor drugs resulting from development. CRT receives an upfront payment and future success milestones as well as royalties on sales which are shared with the academic collaborators.
Blocking ADAM8 in mice with pancreatic cancer prevented the spread of the disease, shrunk tumors and significantly extended lifespan. This is thought to be due to its involvement in cell adhesion, cell migration, inflammation and the growth of blood vessels—key processes that many cancers rely on for growth and development. High levels of the protein have been linked with more aggressive tumors including those in pancreatic, breast, brain, prostate, lung, head, neck and kidney cancers.
This research will be led by Professor Jörg Bartsch as head of the TransMIT-Project Division for Research in Neuro-Oncology at TransMIT, located at Marburg University in Germany, in collaboration with Medivir. Bartsch previously worked at King’s College London where the initial patent application was filed by King’s College IP and Licensing team. Further proof-of-concept studies were funded by Cancer Research U.K. at King’s College.