CellCentric Licenses Novel Epigenetic Discovery Programme to Takeda

Cambridge Enterprise portfolio company CellCentric has out-licensed the development and commercialisation of a new programme which may lead to new cancer therapeutics.

Under the terms of the new agreement with Osaka-based Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited, CellCentric will receive an upfront payment and pre-clinical and clinical milestones, in addition to royalties. Based on the royalties and milestones defined, the overall deal could be worth in excess of $200m to CellCentric over the course of the agreement.

CellCentric is a biotechnology company focused on epigenetics, an emerging field which studies the role that modification to DNA and its associated proteins plays in cell fate. The business was co-founded in 2004 with Professor Azim Surani of the Gurdon Institute, University of Cambridge.

Epigenetics is an important area for novel oncology therapeutics. This new agreement demonstrates our commitment to researching and pioneering the best ways to treat cancer.

Dr Hiroyuki Odaka

This is a pioneering deal for epigenetics, demonstrating the commercial interest in novel epigenetic targets beyond HDACs (histone deacetylases) and DNMTs (DNA methyltransferases). Therapeutic research will be initiated by Takeda’s Research Group. Development of molecules stemming from this agreement will be completed by Millennium: The Takeda Oncology Company, which is responsible for Takeda’s global oncology development strategy.

Many diseases, including cancer, involve a loss of cell fate control. In many cases this is associated with aberrant epigenetic changes to chromatin: dynamic modifications of DNA and its associated proteins, including histones. These epigenetic alterations are caused by a range of enzymes. Initial therapeutic interest has been focused on inhibiting HDAC and DNMTs. It has become increasingly clear that there are many other key epigenetic-related enzymes that can be targeted and which may offer greater specificity of action. These include histone methyltransferases, demethylases and ubiquitin-related enzymes.

CellCentric has an innovation platform built upon relationships with over 30 world leading research laboratories. The company has identified and prioritised multiple next generation targets and runs a series of active drug discovery programmes from its centre in Cambridge. As programmes move forward, CellCentric is able to gain continued benefit and support from multiple Principal Investigators within its network.

With an extensive portfolio and rich pipeline, CellCentric’s strategy is to develop some target programmes through licences and collaborations with Pharmaceutical companies while retaining other programmes for development itself.

Dr Hiroyuki Odaka, General Manager of the Pharmaceutical Research Division of Takeda said “Epigenetics is an important area for novel oncology therapeutics. This new agreement demonstrates our commitment to researching and pioneering the best ways to treat cancer.”

Dr Will West, CEO of CellCentric added “This licence is a strong endorsement of the way we are approaching innovation in epigenetics. This is an area that is no longer seen as just interesting, but as a necessity for pharmaceutical companies growing their armoury for tackling intractable diseases such as cancer.”

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