Global pharmaceutical and biotechnology company AstraZeneca has signed an agreement with Scorpion Therapeutics to discover, develop and commercialize precision medicines against cancer proteins.

The collaboration, announced today (January 13), will focus on a class of proteins called transcription factors, which can regulate important cellular processes including cell growth and survival.

Many transcription factors have been identified earlier, but were considered ‘undruggable’ using conventional drug discovery approaches, the company said in a statement.

Susan Galbraith, executive vice president, Oncology R&D, AstraZeneca, said: “Unlocking potentially transformative biology is pivotal for delivering the next wave of cancer treatments.

“Scorpion’s innovative platform is a strong strategic fit as we explore a range of new modalities across our broad drug discovery toolbox with promise to disrupt the activity of these highly-validated cancer targets.”

Commenting on the agreement, Axel Hoos, MD, chief executive officer, Scorpion, said: “We expect this collaboration will accelerate Scorpion’s efforts to deliver the promise of ‘Precision Oncology 2.0’: optimised, transformational therapies for more patients living with cancer.”

As per the agreement, Scorpion will lead discovery and certain preclinical activities, while AstraZeneca would focus on development and commercialisation activities worldwide.

AstraZeneca has the exclusive option to licence worldwide rights for up to three drug candidates, while Scorpion would retain the option to co-develop and co-promote up to two of these programmes in the US under certain conditions.

Financial details

Under the deal, Scorpion will get receive cash payment of $75 million and is eligible for additional success-based payments in the form of option fees and milestone payments, along with tiered royalties on net sales.

In case, Scorpion chooses to co-develop and co-promote a nominated programme, it will share the operating costs and be entitled to a proportionate share of the economics in the US, subject to certain adjustments.

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