Forma Therapeutics and Cancer Research Technology (CRT), the commercialization company of Cancer Research U.K., have announced a research initiative to discover tools, technologies and therapeutic drug candidates against a variety of protein homeostasis regulators called deubiquitinating enzymes (DUBs).
Forma will pair its drug discovery capabilities with CRT’s experience in translating academic discoveries through its Discovery Laboratories (CRT-DL) and the academic network of Cancer Research U.K. principal investigators.
“This initiative with CRT and Cancer Research U.K. has the potential to accelerate our understanding of the relevant biological applications of DUBs, a key class of enzymes involved in regulating protein homeostasis,” said Steven Tregay, Ph.D., president and chief executive officer, Forma.
Protein ubiquitination is involved in many cellular processes and its regulation is controlled in part by DUBs. Ubiquitin “tags” proteins for degradation, and DUBs remove this tag, providing a tool for manipulating protein levels (protein homeostasis) in a cell. Ubiquitin biology is therefore complex and important to a broad range of human diseases. Forma and CRT-DL will leverage their combined strengths to explore the protease enzymes that regulate ubiquitin-dependent pathways implicated in cancer.
A collaborative consortium will be formed consisting of FormaTherapeutics and up to 10 Forma Asset Discovery and Development Company (ADDCos) subsidiaries, CRT-DL and initially five PIs, including professors Michael Clague and Sylvie Urbé at the University of Liverpool; Dr. Benedikt Kessler at The University of Oxford; Dr. David Komander at the Medical Research Council, Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, U.K.; and Dr. Huib Ovaa at the Chemical Biology Laboratory, Netherlands Cancer Institute.
These investigators will focus on furthering the consortium’s understanding of biological and structural insights of DUBs and assist the discovery teams to ensure the most relevant screening technologies and secondary characterization assays are deployed for selection of lead candidates. Forma will provide research funding support and defined compensation payments for DUB-specific ADDCo programs that achieve specified milestones.
“This vehicle allows our nonprofit collaborators to access a capital efficient engine operating at scale, attain financial returns mirroring their contributions and collectively advance medical science within the framework of a unified team,” said Rob Sarisky, chief business officer, Forma Therapeutics.