Leuven/Gent (Belgium), 31 January 2014 - VIB and CD3 (KU Leuven) today announced the signing of a license and collaboration agreement with AstraZeneca for the development of novel MALT1 inhibitors as therapeutics in inflammatory and oncological diseases.
The research teams of Thijs Baens and Peter Marynen (VIB-KU Leuven, Center for Human Genetics) and Rudi Beyaert (VIB-UGent, Inflammation Research Center) were among the first to identify MALT1, an important regulator of the NF-κB signaling pathway and demonstrate its proteolytic activity on some key substrates. Since then, the proteolytic activity of MALT1 has emerged as a promising target for treatment of auto-immune disorders and certain types of cancer. VIB and CD3 launched a joint early drug discovery collaboration to identify small molecule MALT1 protease inhibitors, which now results in a license to AstraZeneca.
AstraZeneca aims to further develop the small molecule MALT1 inhibitors and, as part of the deal, the parties will join forces in an R&D collaboration to further investigate this interesting target. Both teams will undertake work outlined in the joint research plan .
Under the terms of the agreement, AstraZeneca will make an upfront payment and milestone payments based upon the achievement of development and regulatory goals. VIB and CD3 (KU Leuven) are eligible to receive royalty payments on future products developed under the agreement.
Johan Cardoen, Managing Director of VIB commented "We are very pleased with this license deal and strategic collaboration, bringing together top biological research, industry-standard early drug development and, now, a top notch industrial partner like AstraZeneca to give the program the best possible chances of success. This deal illustrates the potential of translating excellence-driven biological research into actual therapies for patients in need."
"It is great to see that the combination of the important academic research of VIB with the strengths and capabilities of CD3 has been fruitful and resulted in this license and collaboration with AstraZeneca", said Patrick Chaltin, Managing Director of CD3 at KU Leuven. "This agreement again emphasizes the strength and value of CD3's model as an investment fund and technology transfer platform for innovative drug discovery."
"This collaboration is a further example of our ambition to increase innovation by bringing together the best of academia and AZ science. We are confident that these joint efforts will increase our understanding of MALT1 and its role in autoimmunity and oncology, with the aim of discovering and developing more effective patient treatments", says Maarten Kraan, Vice President, Respiratory, Inflammation & Autoimmunity Innovative Medicines and Early Development unit, AstraZeneca Mölndal.