Stem Cell Therapeutics Corp. has announced that it has entered into an option agreement to exclusively license worldwide rights to a series of prostate cancer stem cell assets from the University of York, United Kingdom.
The assets originate from research funded by Yorkshire Cancer Research (YCR) and conducted in the YCR Cancer Research Unit, University of York, under the direction of Professor Norman Maitland.
Stem Cell Therapeutics (SCT) intends to work closely with the Maitland group, leveraging its internal scientific strengths and its existing global network of collaborators.
“This agreement provides Stem Cell Therapeutics with an opportunity to evaluate several highly promising therapeutic targets, all of which are expressed on prostate cancer stem cells, as well as on other types of cancers.” added Dr. Bob Uger, SCT’s Chief Scientific Officer.
Dr. Uger continued, “Much of the York group’s research is focused on hypothesis testing using powerful multicellular in vitro models and xenograft in vivo models of tumour development/metastasis. We will extend this research into the generation of monoclonal antibodies to these targets, with an ultimate goal of identifying new therapeutic development candidates.”
Dr. Maitland’s research group is focused on the development and aetiology of human prostate cancer. They have compiled gene expression profiles for various cell types present in prostate tumors and in normal prostate tissue, and have mined these data for genes and signaling pathways that affect cell fate.
This has demonstrated that heterogeneity within human prostate cancers is due to two independent events: carcinogenic changes and aberrant differentiation.
Exploiting knowledge of the genetic signature of prostate cancer stem cells, the Maitland group has identified novel avenues for treatment which could delay, or even prevent, tumour recurrence.
The group has also shown that prostate cancer stem cells have an active resistance mechanism to many conventional therapies, such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
These latter therapies are directed against the majority of cells in the tumour (the most differentiated cells), but do not affect the minority population, which are the cancer stem cells. Thus, prostate cancer stem cells form a root for post therapy recurrence.
“This commercial partnership should be the ultimate outcome for all charity-supported cancer research. We plan to exploit more than 10 years of research into prostate cancer stem cells in York to develop new treatments for the benefit of patients here and around the world,” commented Professor Maitland. “Our unique approach, supported by Yorkshire Cancer Research, has studied fragments of real tumors donated by men with prostate cancer, and has provided new insights into how the rare stem cells work, and more importantly, how we can kill them. With the collaboration and expertise of Stem Cell Therapeutics, a company dedicated to cancer stem cell R&D, we can at last produce the actual drugs and biological agents to achieve our goal.”
The execution of the definitive license agreement is subject to final due diligence and certain conditions being met by SCT over the next 6-9 months.
The license agreement will contain customary terms and provisions for assets at this stage of development, including an initial license consideration, milestone payments, royalties on sales and sublicensing terms.
“We consider ourselves fortunate to have secured these assets from such a preeminent cancer stem cell research group. Dr. Maitland has long been considered a world-authority in prostate cancer research and we look forward to working closely with both him and his colleague, Dr. Anne Collins,” remarked SCT’s CEO, Dr. Niclas Stiernholm. “This development is a continuation of our strategy to build individual programs and collaborations around strong scientific minds with demonstrated global leadership in the cancer stem cell arena.”