Almac Discovery Wrangles R&D Deal Worth $363.5 Million+ From Genentech

Published: Jun 16, 2015

Almac Discovery Wrangles R&D Deal Worth $363.5 Million+ From Genentech
June 15, 2015
By Mark Terry, Breaking News Staff

Almac Discovery, based in Craigavon, Ireland, announced a development deal with California-based Genentech today.

Almac will receive an upfront payment of $14.5 million and could receive up to $349 million in milestone payments and tiered royalties if any commercial products come out of the research. The Almac therapeutic is a class of molecules called ubiquitin specific protease inhibitors. They block a specific cancer pathway.

“Ubiquitin specific proteases have been shown to play an important role in a number of key cancer-causing pathways,” said Tim Harrison, vice president of drug discovery for Almac Discovery in a BelfastLive article, “and the identification of potent, selective inhibitors provides an exciting opportunity to fully exploit this novel biology, as well as further demonstrating the chemical tractability of this important target class.”

The deal initiates a two-year joint research program funded by Genentech. Genentech will handle all pre-clinical and clinical development, as well as commercialization activities.

Genentech is an undoubted leader in oncology development and this, coupled with their in-depth knowledge in the USP (ubiquitin specific proteases) area, is the perfect complement for us,” said Stephen Barr, president of Almac Discovery to the Irish Times. “We feel confident that Genentech is the best partner to expedite the translation of our medicinal chemistry and biology efforts into the clinic.”

In May, Almac Discovery announced it was teaming up with Elasmogen to co-develop Elasmogen technology for potential treatment for solid tumors.

That research focuses on soloMERS, which are humanized antibody-like proteins originally discovered in sharks. The theory is that soloMERs bind to cancer tissue, penetrate into the tumor before they release a bolus of an anti-cancer drug. Elasmogen is part of the Scottish Biologics Discovery Facility at the University of Aberdeen.

Last week Genentech announced that Actemra (tocilizumab), a potential treatment for systemic sclerosis (scleroderma), had been granted Breakthrough Therapy Designation status by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The Breakthkrough Therapy Designation was based on data from the Phase II faSScinate study.

“The development of Actemra in systemic sclerosis represents our commitment to severe rheumatic diseases,” said Sandra Horning, chief medical officer and head of Genentech’s Global Product Development in a statement. “This Breakthrough Therapy Designation underscores the unmet need in systemic sclerosis and the potential of Actemra to help patients with this debilitating autoimmune disorder.”

Regarding the deal between Almac and Genentech, it has been noted by analysts that it has been very tough, so far, to develop compounds that can block the USP pathway. The discovery of molecules that can by Alcon would appear to be a major breakthrough.

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