Under Sareum’s agreements with Cancer Research Technology (CRT) and the CRT Pioneer Fund, the drug discovery group will receive US$1.9mln as an up-front payment and potential future milestone payments of up to US$88.4mln, some of which will be paid within the next year.
Sareum’s Chk1 Inhibitor CCT245737 (to be renamed PNT737) was originally developed in a research collaboration between the London Institute of Cancer Research, Sareum and CRT.
The ChK1 or checkpoint kinase 1 inhibitor is shown to prevent cancer cells from multiplying by attacking its faulty DNA, meaning the cancer self-destructs.
The group sees potential for synergy between standard cancer therapies - such as radio- or chemotherapy - and checkpoint inhibitors as a combination therapy.
“This is a major achievement for our lead candidate as well as for Sareum. Starting with the initial discovery, we have contributed financially and scientifically to the on-going development of the programme into clinical trials. The returns from this research investment will be realised in this licence agreement, validating our strategy and business model,” said chief executive Tim Mitchell.
“ProNAi is in a strong position to further the development of PNT737 and plans to expand its development into the United States and with broader clinical studies. We look forward to reporting on their progress,” he added.
"ProNAi has a world-class oncology development team and is well-capitalised, and we believe these studies and the ongoing development strategy for this drug are in excellent hands,” said Robert James of Sixth Element Capital LLP, managers of the CRT Pioneer Fund.
Shares shot up 150% to a three-year high of 1.56p.