Evotec AG today announced an integrated drug discovery collaboration with STORM Therapeutics to develop new small molecule epigenetic drugs for oncology and other therapeutic areas. The focus will be on a range of newly discovered RNA modulating enzyme targets.
Evotec, which is based in Hamburg, and STORM have been collaborating since 2016 in high-throughput screening and structural biology to identify hits against two of STORM’s RNA modulating targets. Their initial agreement has now been expanded to support STORM’s chemistry efforts on additional novel targets. Evotec will use its broad drug discovery platform to develop the compounds against these novel RNA targets.
STORM is the only company harnessing the power of RNA epigenetics as a new area of important biology. The company was founded on pioneering work in the Kouzarides and Miska labs tackling diseases through drugging of RNA modulating enzymes. Both labs are part of The Gurdon Institute at the University of Cambridge.
Dr Mario Polywka, Chief Operating Officer of Evotec, commented: “We are excited to be part of this extended drug discovery collaboration with STORM which is targeting this novel class of RNA modulating enzymes. This integrated drug discovery collaboration showcases our industry leading drug discovery platform and expertise and shows how it can be applied to the most novel drug targets”.
Dr Keith Blundy, CEO of STORM Therapeutics, added: “We are very happy to further expand this relationship with Evotec. At STORM, our vision is to become the world’s first company to deliver a disease-modifying agent that works by targeting RNA modulating enzymes. The combination of our understanding of the unique biology of our multiple targets and the infrastructure we have in place with Evotec will enable us to accelerate the development of novel small molecule drug candidates”.
No financial details were disclosed.
RNA (ribonucleic acid) is the only direct product of the human genome and, as mRNA, acts as the template for the synthesis of all proteins, the molecular machines of the cell. RNA is also known to be a key player in cellular decision-making, particularly in the form of non-coding RNA (ncRNA) such as microRNA, piRNA and long non-coding RNA.
Almost all of this RNA is chemically modified: over 100 different chemical modifications have been identified to date, catalysed by several large families of RNA-modifying enzymes. The discovery of reversible chemical modifications of RNA and their role in changing RNA activity and regulating key processes within the cell gave rise to the concept of RNA epigenetics. There is a growing understanding of the importance of RNA modifications in the development of cancer and other diseases, providing a wealth of novel therapeutic targets for drug discovery.
STORM Therapeutics is a University of Cambridge spin-out, translating the ground-breaking work of Professors Tony Kouzarides and Eric Miska in RNA epigenetics into the discovery of first-in-class drugs in oncology and other diseases.Tags: eric miska, Evotec, Keith Blundy, Mario Polywka, RNA epigenetics, Storm Therapeutics, The Gurdon Institute, tony kouzarides