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Boehringer teams up with Eureka on intracellular cancer targets

Alliance will use Eureka technology to identify antibodies recognising relevant proteins

Boehringer Ingelheim headquarters 

Boehringer Ingelheim and Eureka Therapeutics have joined forces in a collaboration to discover therapeutic antibodies for cancer.

The alliance will deploy Eureka's technology to identify antibodies recognising intracellular proteins, which represent around 90% of cancer-specific targets but have proved a challenge for conventional drug discovery techniques.

Currently, antibody-based therapies for cancer target proteins on the surface of cancer cells or in some cases extracellular targets, but they cannot readily cross cell membranes. Unfortunately, surface proteins account for only a fraction of potential tumour targets and are often not specific to cancers, leading to side effects. 

Eureka's platform will be used to identify peptide 'epitopes' that derive from intracellular proteins but are displayed on the cell surface via a process known as major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I antigen presentation.

Boehringer said it would use the technology to develop better therapies for cancer patients, "for whom treatment options are inadequate or non-existent."

The agreement marks the continued expansion of Boehringer into oncology, a sector it has only been working on since 2006. The company's R&D efforts led to the approval of lung cancer therapy Giotrif (afatinib) in 2013, which was followed by a green light for another lung cancer therapy - Vargatef (nintedanib) - last year.

The Eureka collaboration "underlines our long-term commitment to oncology," commented Michel Pairet, vice president of research and non-clinical development at Boehringer, adding: "It will open up entirely new opportunities for the development of tumour cell- as well as immune cell-targeted therapies."

The financial details of the deal with Eureka have not been revealed, but the Californian biotech stands to receive an upfront technology access fee plus research funding for each programme. It could also be in line for technical success fees, option exercise fees, and other downstream payments.

Article by
Phil Taylor

22nd May 2015

From: Research

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