ANN ARBOR—A University of Michigan startup developing drugs to target gene fusions that drive many common cancers such as breast, colon, prostate and lung has signed a research and license agreement with a California biopharmaceutical company.
OncoFusion Therapeutics Inc., an oncology discovery and development company, was co-founded in 2012 by U-M professors Arul Chinnaiyan and Shaomeng Wang based on discoveries from their campus laboratories.
San Francisco-based Medivation Inc. entered into the agreement for certain compounds targeting bromodomain and extra-terminal (BET) proteins for potential use in oncology and other disease areas.
Medivation receives exclusive worldwide rights to develop and commercialize the compounds. OncoFusion is eligible to receive undisclosed upfront payments and potential future milestone payments if certain clinical and commercial milestone events are reached.
"This agreement provides us with the opportunity to accelerate research and development exploring the role of BET bromodomain proteins in oncology," said Chinnaiyan, director of the Michigan Center for Translational Pathology.
Wang, director of the Center for Discovery of New Medicines at U-M, said the partnerships with OncoFusion Therapeutics and Medivation will "provide us with the opportunity to rapidly advance our BET inhibitors into clinical development as a new approach for cancer treatment."
David Hung, president and chief executive officer of Medivation, said that BET bromodomain proteins are emerging as important new class of pharmacological targets with broad potential applications in oncology and other diseases.
"We intend to expand our footprint in cancer by developing improved next generation therapies based upon cutting edge technologies like the one we have licensed from OncoFusion," Hung said.
Bromodomain proteins regulate genes and play a critical role in cancer and other diseases. Emerging research in the area of cancer biology suggests that targeting these proteins may reduce the growth of a number of tumor types.
"We are gratified to see the remarkable progress of OncoFusion Therapeutics, as evidenced by this agreement with Medivation," said Ken Nisbet, associate vice president of U-M Tech Transfer. "We are naturally proud of our U-M researchers Arul Chinnaiyan and Shaomeng Wang, who both have impressive track records of research and entrepreneurial achievement."