Evotec said today it will partner with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and investor Arix Bioscience to accelerate development of new cancer and infectious disease drugs based on research at the Seattle institution, through a five-year partnership whose value was not disclosed.
The acceleration initiative, called the “LAB591 academic BRIDGE,” is designed to create new startups that leverage Fred Hutch research discoveries, Evotec said.
“591” is the number of strikeouts thrown by the research institution’s namesake Fred Hutchinson, a major-league baseball pitcher who died of cancer in 1964 at age 45—and whose brother William B. Hutchinson, M.D., founded Fred Hutch in 1975.
Evotec said it will join with Fred Hutch and Arix to select LAB591 research projects from the Fred Hutch labs that are deemed promising enough to warrant further development.
After developing a research validation plan, Evotec said, it will collaborate on further research with Fred Hutch faculty members, to be seed-funded by Arix. Once research is completed, and if results prove positive, Evotec and Arix plan to form a new company to capitalize on the discovery through a pre-agreed option.
“We believe this partnership will advance our mission to cure cancer, and we look forward to working closely with Evotec and Arix over the next five years,” Hilary Hehman, Fred Hutch director of partnerships and alliances, said in a statement.
Arix is an operating company that sources, finances, and develops startup and later-stage companies across the life science and healthcare sectors globally. Arix oversees 13 group businesses, for which it had raised more than £250 million ($332.5 million) as of the end of last year, according to its Annual Report 2017.
“This new strategic collaboration provides us with an excellent platform to identify new opportunities and build companies with validated, novel scientific approaches, focused on therapeutic breakthroughs for patients suffering from cancer and infectious diseases,” added Arix chairman Jonathan Peacock.
The formation of LAB591 is an example of Evotec’s BRIDGE (Biomedical Research, Innovation & Development Generation Efficiency) collaboration model designed to accelerate research and early development of new treatments originating with academic partners.
BRIDGE serves as “an integrated fund and award framework to tap into exciting academic science to generate partnerships with Pharma and biotech,” Evotec said.
“This BRIDGE demonstrates Evotec's strong and long-lasting commitment to collaboration and innovation, and we are convinced that we are meeting the needs of universities and commercial partners and are filling a crucial gap with this model,” stated Evotec CEO Werner Lanthaler, M.D., Ph.D.
Over the past two years, Evotec has formed two “LAB” collaborations using its BRIDGE model:
- LAB150—Evotec is partnering with Toronto’s MaRS Innovation to link Canadian academic institutions and teaching hospitals access to Evotec’s infrastructure and drug discovery expertise, and combine it with drug discovery projects from MaRS Innovation’s 15 member institutions. In January 2017, LAB150 spun out Fibrocor Therapeutics, a fibrotic disease drug developer.
- LAB282—Evotec has joined with the University of Oxford, its research commercialization company Oxford University Innovation, and IP investment company Oxford Sciences Innovation (OSI), to translate basic research from Oxford into new therapeutics, funded by an OSI-led £13 million ($17.3 million) fund.
BRIDGE is part of Evotec’s “EVT Innovate” business segment, focused on investing in and developing the company’s proprietary assets, including early-stage discovery programs and more advanced drug candidates.