AstraZeneca Forges RNA-Modifying Protein Oncology Deal with Accent Therapeutics

Accent Therapeutics and AstraZeneca forged a collaboration valued at about $1.1 billion to discover, develop and commercialize transformative therapeutics targeting RNA-modifying proteins (RMPs) for the treatment of cancer.

Lexington, Mass.-based Accent Therapeutics, which launched in 2018, is focused on epitranscriptomics and the development of novel therapeutics targeting RMPs for cancer. Inhibition of RMPs is a new approach for addressing RNA pathobiology by targeting proteins that control many aspects of RNA biology, the company said. AstraZeneca intends to partner with the company to develop new oncology products for an unspecified number of cancers. Not only are RMPs believed to be a new target for cancer, they also have potential in other diseases, Accent believes.

José Baselga, head of oncology research at AstraZeneca, said the promise of RMP inhibition in treating cancer is a compelling area of exploration. In the collaboration with Accent Therapeutics, Baselga said the goal is to identify novel targets and “unlock the full potential” of those medicines. AstraZeneca opted to team up with Accent due to that company’s expertise in RNA-modifying protein biology, Baselga said. That expertise complements AstraZeneca’s extensive research and development portfolio, he added.

Under the terms of the collaboration agreement, Accent will be responsible for research and development activities for a nominated preclinical program through to the end of Phase I clinical trials. Following the completion of Phase I, AstraZeneca will lead development and commercialization activities for the nominated program, with Accent having the option to jointly develop and commercialize with AstraZeneca in the United States.

This collaboration leverages both AstraZeneca’s vast cancer expertise and resources and Accent’s rich pipeline of RMP therapeutic programs to bring new and potentially life-changing medicines to patients. This collaborative effort will enable us to rapidly advance and achieve the rich therapeutic potential of these exciting programs,” Accent Therapeutics Chief Executive Officer Shakti Narayan said in a statement.

Accent will receive an upfront payment of $55 million and is eligible to receive up to $1.1 billion in additional success-based payments across all programs in the form of option fees and milestone payments, as well as tiered royalties on net sales ranging from mid-single digit to low-double digits, according to terms of the collaboration.

For Accent, the collaboration with AstraZeneca comes a little more than a month after the company secured $63 million in a Series B funding round to support the development of its own RMP-inhibitors, including its lead programs METTL3 and ADAR1. METTL3 is an RNA methyltransferase implicated in AML, specific solid tumors and immuno-oncology. ADAR1 is an RNA editor with compelling validation for solid tumors with elevated intrinsic Type I interferon-stimulated gene signaling and has also been suggested to play a key role in immuno-oncology, according to the company.

Jun 04, 2020

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