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Genentech and Array enter oncology deal

Genentech and Array BioPharma have entered into an agreement to develop both companies’ small-molecule Checkpoint kinase 1 (ChK-1) programme

Array BioPharma and Genentech have announced a development of their oncology partnership, under which the companies will develop their Checkpoint kinase 1 (ChK-1) programmes. Among the programmes covered by the agreement are Array's ARRY-575, a potent, selective, orally bio-available small molecule inhibitor of ChK-1, which is being prepared for an investigational new drug application (NDA) to initiate a phase I trial in cancer patients, and Genentech's GDC-0425 (RG7602), which is currently in phase I.

Both ARRY-575 and GDC-0425 are ChK-1 compounds, which are designed to improve how well chemotherapy works for cancer patients. Often with chemotherapy, the DNA of the tumour cell is damaged, and ChK-1 is the protein kinase that allows this damaged tumour DNA to be repaired. Allowing the tumour to repair its DNA can reduce the efficacy of chemotherapy. Therefore, inhibiting ChK-1 while administering chemotherapy can increase tumour cell death, effectively increasing the efficacy of some chemotherapeutic agents.

“We believe ChK-1 inhibition is a key strategy for enhancing the efficacy of chemotherapeutic and other agents in cancer patients,” said Robert E. Conway, chief executive officer of Array BioPharma, who also said: “Combining both companies' programmes will maximise our chances for success in developing and commercialising this novel cancer therapy.”

Under the terms of the agreement, Genentech will be responsible for all the development and commercialisation resulting from the agreement, and will make an initial payment of $28m to Array. Subsequent milestone payments could total up to $685m, and Array will also be eligible to earn royalties on any drugs that result from the collaboration, though full financial details have not been disclosed.

Genentech and Array share a long-standing relationship, and have worked together since 2004. The new oncology agreement represents an expansion of that existing relationship, in which the companies have collaborated to advance oncology programmes into clinical development.

As well as its relationship with Genentech, Array also has partnerships with AstraZeneca and Novartis, to develop the compounds selumetinib and MEK 162, which are inhibitors of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK)/extracellular signal-related protein kinase (ERK) pathways (MEK inhibitors).

10th August 2011

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