Under the research agreement, New York-headquartered DarwinHealth will provide Daiichi Sankyo access to its data for a predetermined amount of time.
DarwinHealth CEO Gideon Bosker said the deal aims to identify novel, high-value cancer targets.
These can “subsequently be prioritised and undergo rigorous experimental validation to drive drug development for a new generation of anti-cancer therapies that would be designed, developed, and owned by Daiichi Sankyo,” he said.
DarwinHealth will receive an upfront payment from the Japan-headquartered firm – details of which were not disclosed – as well as potential development and commercialisation milestone payments.
DarwinHealth’s technology employs biology-based algorithms to match cancer patients with drugs and drug combinations.
“These same algorithms also can prioritize investigational drugs and compound combinations of unknown potential against a full spectrum of human malignancies, as well as novel cancer targets,” said Bosker.
For this agreement, novel cancer targets will be selected and prioritised based on their role as either ‘Master Regulators’ or their most specific ‘Master Regulator Upstream Modulators’ – necessary for cancer cell maintenance – within a tumour-specific checkpoint module, co-founder Andrea Califano explained.
“Therefore, they are expected to represent highly valuable targets for anti-tumour therapy, cancer drug design, and preclinical development,” he added.
Large molecule investments
The agreement marks the latest in a number of recent investments made by Daiichi Sankyo in the biologics space.
In April last year, the firm announced plans to spend ¥15b ($135m) on manufacturing lines in three Japanese facilities, to support its antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) pipeline.
In October, 2017, Daiichi Sankyo signed an option agreement to develop and commercialise Glycotyope’s investigational ADC PankoMab-GEX.
And last month, we reported the company would pay contract development and manufacturing organisation (CDMO) Hitachi Chemical Therapeutics Solutions to make its investigational regenerative medicine for the Japanese market.