Forma Therapeutics and Cancer Research UK subsidiary Cancer Research Technology (CRT) are together working to discover and develop tools, technologies, and therapeutic candidates against a variety of deubiquitinating enzymes, or DUBs.

Under the terms of the agreement, Forma will pair its drug discovery capabilities with CRT’s technology transfer expertise and network of Cancer Research UK investigators. Together, the organizations aim to investigate the protease enzymes that regulate ubiquitin-dependent pathways implicated in cancer. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Through this collaborative effort, a consortium consisting of Forma and up to 10 of its asset discovery and development company subsidiaries, CRT Discovery Laboratories, and five outside principal investigators will be formed. Those PIs are the University of Liverpool’s Michael Clague, Ph.D., and Sylvie Urbé, Ph.D.; Benedict Kessler, Ph.D., from the University of Oxford; the Medical Research Council’s David Komander, Ph.D.; and Huib Ovaa, Ph.D., from the Netherlands Cancer Institute. They will be working to further the consortium’s understanding of DUBs, and to assist discovery teams “to ensure the most relevant screening technologies and secondary characterization assays are deployed for selection of lead candidates,” Forma and CRT said.

According to Forma CSO Kenneth W. Bair, Ph.D., “DUBs represent an attractive area for drug discovery exploration. As key regulators of ubiquitin recycling, processing, proofreading and disassembly, there is a tremendous opportunity to build a franchise of complementary therapeutics targeting the diverse collections of protein complexes.”

“This initiative with CRT and CRUK has the potential to significantly accelerate our understanding of the relevant biological applications of DUBs, a key class of enzymes involved in regulating protein homeostasis,” Steven Tregay, Ph.D., Forma president and CEO, said in a statement.

Added CRT CEO Keith Blundy: “Cancer Research UK’s breadth of research combined with CRT-DL [Discovery Laboratories]’ drug discovery capabilities are a unique platform that has secured the Forma relationship and will contribute to bringing breakthrough cancer therapeutics to patients.”

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