CellCentric Ltd. Secures 25th Epigenetics Academic Agreement
Published: Apr 21, 2009
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 Medicine.
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 clinical impact.
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.