The agreement grants Basilea exclusive worldwide rights to develop, manufacture and commercialize novel panRAF kinase inhibitors which originate from research at The Institute of Cancer Research by scientists funded by Cancer Research UK and the Wellcome Trust. RAF kinases play an important role in tumor cell proliferation. The oral, small molecule panRAF inhibitors target BRAF and other growth pathways relied upon by resistant tumor cells. These properties allow anti-cancer activity in a range of tumor models including tumors resistant to anti-BRAF therapy associated with a number of marketed anti-cancer drugs. The lead compound is anticipated to start clinical phase 1 testing in 2015.
Under the terms of the agreement, the consortium will lead clinical phase 1 development for the lead compound. Basilea will assume full operational responsibility thereafter. The consortium receives an upfront payment and is eligible to potential milestone payments on achievement of pre-specified clinical, regulatory and commercial milestones, as well as tiered royalties on future net sales.
Professor Caroline Springer, Professor of Biological Chemistry at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, said: "I'm delighted by today's announcement, which is excellent news for research into treatments for drug-resistant cancers. The agreement provides the foundation for the clinical development of this exciting new drug class. It is an important milestone in efforts to tackle resistance to existing cancer therapies and provide new options for cancer patients."
"We are excited about complementing our growing and maturing oncology pipeline with this novel program including a lead compound expected to enter clinical testing in 2015. The available data show that this novel class of panRAF inhibitors are active in tumors which have developed resistance to currently available RAF kinase inhibitors and have the potential to offer new treatment options for melanoma as well as additional cancer indications," said Dr. Laurenz Kellenberger, Basilea's Chief Scientific Officer.