British Biotech Company Licensed MUNI Know-How to Develop New Cancer-Killing Compounds

The collaboration between MUNI and British biotech company Artios Pharma took a new direction. In summer 2019, the company signed a second license agreement with the university. This time, it concerns a licence for know-how that will help develop another class of compounds inhibiting specific nucleases. The teams of Assoc. Prof. Kamil Paruch and Lumír Krejčí have collaborated with Artios Pharma since 2016 and their joint research is very promising.

6 Nov 2019 Iveta Zieglová

Assoc. prof. Lumír Krejčí (on the left) and Kamil Paruch, who are responsible for the research

„Artios Pharma has decided to pursue the development of so-called warhead compounds. This term refers to active parts of molecules that bind to certain parts of certain nucleases, thus inhibiting their activity,“ explains Dr Radoslav Trautmann, business manager of Technology Transfer Office who has helped to establish the collaboration with Artios Pharma.

Nucleases are the principal focus of the scientists´ research. These enzymes take part in repairing damaged DNA. What is a regular and beneficial process in a healthy human can turn into a serious problem in the case of tumour diseases - it can make cancerous cells resistant to treatment. On the other hand, some tumours, thanks to their altered genetic makeup, rely completely on a certain kind of DNA repair. If one succeeded in blocking the said DNA repair by inhibiting the given nuclease in these cells, it would destroy them without harming any healthy tissue. The joint research of MUNI scientists and Artios Pharma focuses on searching for compounds that would inhibit these nucleases.

„We are delighted to announce the in-licensing of Masaryk University know-how which reflects the continuing progress of our joint research. Compounds that can be developed on the basis of this know-how have the potential to affect a number of nucleases responsible for DNA repairs, thus becoming a cornerstone of innovative, targeted cancer treatment,“ says the CEO of Artios Pharma, Dr Niall Martin.

The contracts concluded with Artios have made it possible for the promising research to be funded by this private company. “We are confident in Artios´ ability to translate this programme to the clinic, to benefit the lives of cancer patients,“ says Assoc. Prof. Lumir Krejčí.

The collaboration of Masaryk University with the British biotech company Artios Pharma began in the autumn of 2016. In spring 2018, the company licensed first promising compounds; the current licence pushes the research even further in a specific direction. From the point of view of scope, significance and potential financial benefits for MUNI, this is so far the most important licence the Technology Transfer Office has ever helped to conclude.

„In case the research eventually yields an entirely innovative range of cancer drugs, Masaryk University will gain substantial income from this licence. The profits are thus re-invested in further research and in the scientists who came up with the given invention,“ adds Dr Trautmann.

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