Belfer Institute, Evotec forge oncology collaboration
June 2013
by Jeffrey Bouley  |  Email the author


HAMBURG, Germany—At the end of April, Evotec AG and the Belfer Institute for Applied Cancer Science at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston announced a research collaboration aimed at discovering and commercializing novel cancer treatments based on epigenetic drug mechanisms.  
The parties will work together to validate emerging epigenetic targets for oncology indications as well as demonstrate the drugability of the selected target families. Together, they will "invest in enabling technologies, experimental target validation and the generation of chemical matter by leveraging existing expertise and platforms."  
In the end, all three organizations—Evotec, Belfer and Dana-Farber—will provide substantial scientific contributions to drive the effort and remain on target for the objective of developing therapies that address unmet medical needs for cancer patients.
Dr. Werner Lanthaler, CEO of Evotec, has expressed great pride in having found two collaborators of the caliber of Dana-Farber and the Belfer Institute, adding that the collaboration "perfectly matches our innovation strategy as described in Evotec's Action Plan 2016. We are enthusiastic about exploring novel targets that have the potential to produce first-in-class therapeutics for the treatment of cancer."
For the Belfer Institute's part, the organization's head of research, Dr. Jessie English, sees this as a "pioneering partnership" that provides an excellent opportunity to put together the drug discovery capabilities of Evotec with the expertise in oncology disease biology at Belfer and Dana-Farber to accelerate the development of new medicines to help cancer patients through epigenetics.
English adds that as a rapidly evolving high potential field of pharmaceutical research, epigenetics calls for "close relationships between academia and biotechnology innovators. By combining the complimentary capabilities of Dana-Farber, the Belfer Institute for Applied Cancer Science and Evotec, this collaboration is uniquely positioned to succeed."  
None of the parties were able or willing to disclose commercial terms or other business details of their cooperative agreement.  
Dana-Farber, which is a teaching affiliate of the Harvard Medical School, isn 't the only Harvard-related news from Evotec this spring. A couple weeks after the Belfer/Dana-Farber collaboration news made the rounds, Evotec announced a research collaboration with Harvard University aimed at discovering and developing novel antibacterial agents based on a highly validated target family involved in bacterial cell wall biosynthesis.
Under the agreement, researchers at Harvard and Evotec will work together to identify and optimize small-molecule inhibitors of bacterial cell wall synthesis, based on enabling technologies and chemical starting points licensed from Harvard.  
Evotec will bring its comprehensive drug discovery infrastructure and expertise in addressing antibacterial targets into play to specifically target peptidoglycan biosynthesis. According to Evotec, the approach leverages "promising chemical starting points, biological and structure-guided techniques allied with extensive medicinal chemistry expertise." The commercialization of the resulting assets would be handled through Evotec.
"The lack of new antibacterials has been broadly recognized as a major unmet medical need as antibiotics pipelines are drying up while resistance against existing drugs is on the rise," Lanthaler noted in the news release about the agreement. "We are excited to team up with our colleagues at Harvard to systematically target a highly validated but underexploited antibacterial target family. "
For her part, Dr. Vivian Berlin, director of business development in Harvard's Office of Technology Development, added, "Target PGB builds on research at Harvard on bacterial cell wall biosynthesis, which is at the perfect stage of development to partner with Evotec. Our goal in collaborating with Evotec is to accelerate the research and advance the project toward the clinic. This collaboration benefits from our aligned vision, complementary skills and the strong relationship we have built with Evotec in our other ongoing collaborations," which include such 2012 deals as Evotec and Harvard entering into strategic alliance with Janssen Pharmaceuticals and Evotec and Harvard expanding an existing strategic alliance into kidney disease.
Code: E061320

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