CellCentric, the biotechnology company unlocking epigenetic control mechanisms, has further
expanded its network of relationships, with an agreement covering Professors Ramin
Shiekhattar and Luciano Di Croce at the Center for Genomic Regulation, Barcelona. The
company now has ties with 25 laboratories across the world.
This is the largest innovation and discovery base of any biotech company in the field.
CellCentric also works with significant institutions such as the University of Cambridge,
Massachusetts General Hospital, the University of Southern California, the Babraham
Institute and MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Currently the company has six active small molecule discovery programmes and is building a
portfolio of epigenetic-related supporting technologies, including screens and markers.
CellCentric has prioritised these through working with the breadth of leading epigenetic
researchers who it helps to identify and evaluate findings of commercial value. The company
interacts closely with multiple Technology Transfer Offices to file patents and finalise licences.
CellCentric previously announced a feasibility study and option agreement with Takeda
Pharmaceuticals in January 2009, where the two companies are collaborating on a novel
cancer target. The company has also signed a non-exclusive evaluative and optional licence
agreement to a particular screening assay in October 2008 with Pfizer Regenerative
Commenting on the developments, Dr Will West, Chief Executive, said:
“The team at CellCentric is delighted to reinforce its discovery base with the addition of
leaders of the calibre of Ramin and Luciano.
“Epigenetics is still an emerging field; breadth of scientific understanding will be key to
commercial success. Our innovative business model of harnessing information from multiple
world leaders has fuelled a series of highly competitive discovery programmes. The fact that
we have translated this to early deals that have brought in revenue without diluting our assets,
proves we are recognised to be in a dominant position in epigenetics.”
Epigenetics concerns the processes that help govern chromatin structure and function, by
which cell fate is controlled. This is an emerging field that is leading to a series of novel
approaches to intractable diseases, including cancer. DNA demethylases and histone
deacetylases (HDACs) have pioneered the therapeutic potential of the space, but it is clear
that there are many other rational targets associated with epigenetics that could have real
CellCentric’s business model and strategy is designed to ensure that it has the best chance of
success in delivering the next wave of epigenetic targets and product candidates.
Currently CellCentric is running small molecule discovery programmes on 6 novel targets that
have been prioritised from a wide pool of candidates identified through disclosures from
individuals and multiple sources. Targets include methyltransferases, demethylases and
ubiquitin-related enzymes. Importantly, each programme benefits from ongoing input from the
leading researchers in the field.
The company also has generated a series of epigenetic-related screens and markers that
cover cellular reprogramming and induced pluripotency. CellCentric was founded in 2004 with
Prof Azim Surani FRS, University of Cambridge.