PhoreMost Will Use Screening Platform to Boost Otsuka's Gene Therapy Program

Gene Therapy

U.K.-based PhoreMost and Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co. entered into a multi-project collaboration to seek out disease-relevant pathways that can be exploited for the development of gene therapies to treat different illnesses.

According to the structure of the agreement, PhoreMost, which has its headquarters in Cambridge, England, will focus its SIZTESEEKER next-generation phenotypic screening platform on those disease-relevant pathways nominated by Otsuka. When the novel targets are identified, they will then be validated and characterized by Otsuka as part of that company’s internal development pipeline. There will be an initial focus on gene therapy applications of identified targets, the companies said in their brief announcement. Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed. 

“This collaboration with Otsuka is further recognition of the power of the SITESEEKER approach to drive the identification of novel, druggable targets. We are particularly excited to be exploring not only small molecule therapeutics but also gene therapy applications of our platform,” Chris Torrance, PhoreMost’s chief executive officer said in a statement.

The SITESEEKER platform was designed to discover new and highly-significant targets for future therapies. The new targets are then examined for the best possible ways to develop drugs for these diseases, including cancer and other diseases with unmet needs. The SITESEEKER platform explores the diversity of protein shapes in order to discover functionally active peptides, which enhances the power of phenotypic screening and translation into therapeutic modalities. PhoreMost uses its SITESEEKER platform to investigate the whole of the proteome in a live cell environment for novel druggable targets linked to any chosen disease. This enables the systematic discovery of functionally active peptides which are directly linked to useful therapeutic applications, the company said.

For PhoreMost, the deal with Otsuka was announced one week after the U.K. company tied up a deal with Germany’s Boehringer Ingelheim. In that deal, PhoreMost will use SITESEEKER to explore disease-relevant pathways nominated by Boehringer Ingelheim. Similar to the deal with Otsuka, novel targets identified will be further validated and characterized by Boehringer Ingelheim as part of its internal pipeline. Financial terms of that deal were also undisclosed.

In November, PhoreMost also announced an expansion of its collaboration with Sentinel Oncology, also based in Cambridge, England, to accelerate the progression of SOL686, a novel allosteric Polo-like kinase 1 (PLK1) inhibitor through preclinical development and IND enabling studies for the treatment of Glioma. Traditional approaches to drugging PLK enzymes have focused on targeting their active site; however, this tactic has been hindered by toxicity-associated adverse events. The program between the two companies has demonstrated a promising combination of specific drug-like properties, mode of action and target validation data obtained so far, PhoreMost said.

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