Swiss biopharma Debiopharm International negotiated global rights to Almac Discovery’s Wee-1 kinase inhibitor program. The deal gives Debiopharm exclusive rights to Almac Discovery’s Wee-1 patent portfolio and associated IP, in return for an undisclosed upfront payment, plus future development and commercial milestone payments, and sales royalties.

Almac Discovery has developed and optimized a series of oral, selective inhibitors of Wee-1 kinase, a regulator of the G2 checkpoint. Commenting on the deal, Dr. Bertrand Ducrey, CEO of Swiss specialty pharma Debiopharm, said, “Almac Discovery’s compelling expertise in medicinal chemistry and drug discovery is very complementary with Debiopharm business model and we look forward to developing these compounds to offer an innovative treatment for patients with high medical need.”

Last month, Debiopharm acquired ImmunoGen’s anti-CD37 antibody-drug conjugate IMGN529 (Debio 1562),  which is poised to start in Phase II evaluation against non-Hodgkin lymphomas, including diffuse large-cell B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL). Also last month, the Debiopharm Innovation Fund, which is part of the Debiopharm Group, led a $10-million Series B round of fundraising in genomic data management firm BC Platforms.

Almac Discovery’s pipeline is headed by the clinical candidate ALM201, an anti-angiogenic peptide based on FKBPL, which also targets stem cells. In February the firm established a major research collaboration with the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) focused on gaining new insights into cancer drug-resistance mechanisms, and to further evaluate ALM201, which was originally discovered by scientists at RCSI. The peptide is currently is being evaluated in a Phase I trial in patients with solid tumors. The study includes a biomarker-selected subgroup of patients with ovarian cancer and sensitivity to anti-angiogenic therapy. 

Almac Discovery is separately exploiting its Ubi-Plex™ assay and hit-finding platform to identify novel inhibitors of ubiquitin specific proteases (USPs), and is developing protein-drug conjugates derived from its VNAR shark antibody domain platform.

Last month, parent organization Almac Group, which is headquartered in Northern Ireland, reported that it would be expanding in Southern Ireland with the planned construction of a new facility in Dundalk, County Louth.

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