Janssen Biotech is partnering with newcomer Araxes Pharma to develop therapeutics against a certain target for the treatment of cancer, under which Araxes Pharma will advance its program through Phase I to clinical proof-of-concept. Thereafter, Janssen Biotech will have sole responsibility for the continued development and worldwide commercialization of products arising under the agreement.

Araxes Pharma will receive an up-front payment and research and development funding and is eligible to receive milestone payments in addition to tiered royalties on the worldwide sales of products.

Araxes Pharma’s scientific founders are Kevan Shokat, Ph.D., HHMI Investigator and professor of molecular and cellular pharmacology at UCSF, and Frank McCormick, Ph.D., FRS, professor and director of the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center at UCSF. Joining them in the new venture are Troy Wilson, Ph.D., J.D., president and CEO, Yi Liu, Ph.D., CSO, and Pingda Ren, Ph.D., svp, chemistry.

Drs. Wilson, Liu, Ren and Shokat previously co-founded Intellikine, which discovered three drug candidates against the PI3K/mTOR pathway. In January 2012, Millennium Pharmaceuticals, the Takeda Oncology Company, acquired Intellikine in a deal valued up to $310 million.

The Intellikine co-founders recently reunited to form Wellspring Biosciences, a pharmaceutical incubator focused on the discovery and development of drugs targeting signal transduction networks for the treatment of cancer and other serious diseases. Wellspring is organized as a drug discovery incubator, with its scientific programs organized in separate, asset-centered affiliates. Araxes Pharma is the first publicly announced affiliate.

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