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AstraZeneca expands alliance with Bicycle Therapeutics

Collaboration to seek out new respiratory and cardio-metabolic drugs

AstraZeneca building

AstraZeneca must be pleased with its $1bn alliance with Bicycle Therapeutics to seek out new respiratory and cardio-metabolic drugs, as it has just expanded the collaboration.

The initial deal was signed 18 months ago and focused on using the UK biotech’s bicyclic peptide platform to develop drugs against multiple disease targets, none of which are being disclosed as yet. It has now been extended to include additional disease targets, prompting a milestone payment and a boost to the total value of the deal – also under wraps for the moment.

It’s another endorsement of the Cambridge-based biotech’s platform, which grew out of research conducted by the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge by its founders Sir Gregory Winter and Professor Christian Heinis.

According to the company, bicyclic peptides or ‘bicycles’ have the targeting power of monoclonal antibodies but behave more like small molecules in their solubility and ability to penetrate tissues and be delivered at specific doses, as well as their ease of manufacture. They are also cleared from the body via the kidneys, which bypasses problems associated with drugs that are metabolised via the liver.

“This valuable collaboration increases our ability to explore and deliver on the therapeutic potential of bicycles outside oncology, our core area of focus,” said the firm’s CEO Kevin Lee.

Faced with a series of patent expirations on big-selling products, AZ has been making dramatic changes to its business of late, selling mature products as well as R&D projects outside its core areas of interest while also seeking new pipeline-boosting deals.

The company’s cancer portfolio is attracting the most investor attention at the moment, but the Bicycle deal is one of several longer-term alliances the company has penned in cardio-metabolic and respiratory, its other main areas of focus.

Meanwhile, for Bicycle the deal gives it a revenue stream and allows it to expand the focus of its bicycle platform beyond cancer, where it is focusing most of its in-house efforts. The biotech’s lead candidate is BT1718 for solid tumours, which is in a Cancer Research UK-backed trial that started dosing patients in February.

The peptide portion of BT1718 binds to MT1-MMP, which is highly expressed in many solid tumours, including triple negative breast cancer, sarcoma and non-small cell lung cancer, and is conjugated to DM1, a cell-killing drug.

Article by
Phil Taylor

25th May 2018

From: Research

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