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Oct 7, 2013

A*STAR, Debiopharm Team Up to Develop Epigenetic Cancer Target

  • The Singapore-based Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)’s Experimental Therapeutics Centre (ETC) and the Swiss-based biopharmaceutical company Debiopharm Group signed an exclusive research collaboration to develop oral small molecules targeting a new class of epigenetic modulators. Debiopharm and ETC will co-finance the discovery phase of the project, while Debiopharm will be in charge of development.

    Andres McAllister, Debiopharm International's CSO of research and evaluation, said in a statement that the partnership will aim to target tumors with genetic lesions. "The use of epigenetic targets is emerging as an effective and valuable approach for personalized medicine strategies for cancer treatment," he added.

    Set up in 2006, ETC's goal is to play an important role in translating early-stage scientific discoveries into practical applications. The center is directed by Alex Matter, M.D., who was also the global head of oncology research for Novartis Pharmaceuticals. 

    "This partnership strengthens our presence in Asia in a highly dynamic area for innovation when it comes to the development of new drugs," Rolland-Yves Mauvernay, president and founder of Debiopharm, commented. "Furthermore, this collaboration is in line with our strategy focusing on patients outcomes by offering more targeted oncology therapies."

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MDMA (commonly known as the empathogen “ecstasy”) is classified as a Schedule 1 drug, which is reserved for compounds with no accepted medical use and a high abuse potential. Two researchers from Stanford, however, call for a rigorous scientific exploration of MDMA's effects to identify precisely how the drug works, the data from which could be used to develop therapeutic compounds.

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