Hybrigenics will identify DUB targets in multiple fields, screen for drug candidates and develop companion diagnostics.

Servier is paying Hybrigenics €4 million in up-front fees and research funding as part of a license and research collaboration focused on identifying deubiquitinating enzyme (DUB) targets and drug candidates in multiple therapeutic fields. Disease areas encompassed include oncology, neurology, psychiatry, rheumatology, ophthalmology, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.

Hybrigenics will identify and validate new DUB targets and carry out screening to identify potential candidates against four targets that have already been selected. Servier will provide compounds for screening, and will also be responsible for the development and commercialization of resulting drug candidates. The firms say the partnership may also lead to the discovery of companion diagnostics for use alongside selected drug compounds.

Under terms of the deal Hybrigenics could receive another €9.5 million in development and regulatory milestones, along with royalties on sales of companion diagnostic kits. Teaming up with Servier means Hybrigenics will also focus its in-house DUB therapeutics research on fields outside those covered by the collaboration.

Hybrigenics has specialist expertise in the field of ubiquitin-specific proteases (USPs) as potential anticancer drugs, and has two USP-based oncology programs in preclinical development. The firm says that in contrast with the only currently approved ubiquitin-proteasome system related therapeutic, Velcade®, which has side effects, its approach is to target the proteasome at the upstream level of ubiquitin conjugation/deconjugation in order to generate therapeutics with increased specificity and selectivity.

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