Debiopharm negotiated an exclusive license agreement with the Moffitt Cancer Centre covering the center’s preclinical small molecule anticancer agent. Designated Debio 0928, the drug inhibits interaction between the tumor promoter Raf-1 and the tumor suppressor retinoblastoma protein (Rb).
“Being able to deactivate a key signaling kinase like Raf-1, known to be involved in many types of cancer, could open the door to more effective oncology treatments in the future,” adds Rolland-Yves Mauvernay, Debiopharm’s president and founder.
Clinical trials are only expected to begin in 2012. Moffitt, which received an up-front fee, is also entitled to development milestones.
Although Rb normally acts to prevent cell division, interaction of the protein with Raf-1, a key signaling kinase in the MAP kinase pathway, triggers a series of signals that induces cell proliferation. “The disruption of the binding of the tumor promoter Raf-1 to the tumor suppressor Rb with Debio 0928 is a novel, first-in-class therapeutic strategy that has the potential for targeting a wide range of human cancers,” comments Saïd Sebti, chair, department of drug discovery at the Moffitt.
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