- Oxford University and Evotec's drug discovery partnership launched last November to accelerate drugs to market begins making awards
Hamburg, Germany, 21 February 2017:
Evotec AG (Frankfurt Stock Exchange: EVT, TecDAX, ISIN: DE0005664809) is pleased to announce that LAB282, the £ 13 m (over EUR 15 m) drug discovery partnership with Oxford University, has made its first wave of awards, backing projects targeting cardiovascular diseases and infectious diseases.
Launched last year in November as a partnership between Oxford University, Evotec, Oxford University Innovation Ltd and Oxford Sciences Innovation plc, LAB282 aids the rapid translation of research outputs into new drug discovery and development programmes. It draws on expertise provided by Evotec and combines it with pre-clinical proof-of-concept grant funding to accelerate projects into a position where they can be commercialised and scaled up efficiently and effectively.
Out of a pool of high-quality project proposals across various therapeutic areas and encompassing different therapeutic modalities, two projects were chosen. The two grant winners will be conducting further research into:
- "Drugs from bugs" - A project developing evasins, a potential treatment for cardiovascular and autoimmune diseases derived from the saliva of ticks;
- DarTG - A potential new target for the development of antibiotics that could shut down tuberculosis and several other pathogens.
Evotec will exclusively contribute its drug discovery expertise and platforms to the selected projects and together with Oxford University and its academic researchers develop them further with the aim to have a pre-clinical proof of concept for new drugs.
The next round of grants awards is due in June 2017.
Dr Thomas Hanke, LAB282 Expert-in-Residence and Head of Academic Partnerships at Evotec, commented: "I am excited and very pleased we were able to select two outstanding and truly translational projects from a panel of high-quality applications for the first round of LAB282 awards. My cordial congratulations go to Prof. Bhattacharya and Dr Ahel and their teams for their excellent work. I am very much looking forward to closely collaborating with the Oxford University and Evotec teams in accelerating bona fide drug discovery from the awarded projects."
Shoumo Bhattacharya, British Heart Foundation Chair of Cardiovascular Medicine at Oxford University and lead academic on the evasins project, said: "The LAB282 funding, which brings Evotec's world-class expertise in the development of peptide therapeutics and in inflammation to the evasin project, will help the development of new therapeutics - 'drugs from bugs' - that can treat orphan autoimmune diseases such as myocarditis."
Carolyn Porter, Deputy Head of Technology Transfer, Oxford University Innovation, added: "The LAB282 partnership was established to accelerate drug discovery at Oxford University. This funding will enable the evasin project to enter the clinic more rapidly for the benefit of patients with cardiovascular autoimmune disorders for which there is no cure. Through validation of DarTG role in bacterial growth and function, our second funded project could uncover a new strategy for development of antibiotics."
Additional scientific information
The "drugs from bugs" project will be looking to develop evasins, which are peptides derived from the saliva of ticks. Ticks have been around since the time of the dinosaurs, and have been evolving these peptides to block chemokines, which are proteins in the body that recruit inflammatory cells to the site of injury. The research team led by Professor Shoumo Bhattacharya have developed a new "Bug-to-Drug" technology to find these tick peptides in order to treat inflammatory and fibrotic diseases that are currently incurable. In this project, they will use these peptides to target chemokines that cause giant cell myocarditis ("GCM"), a rare autoimmune disease with no cure. GCM usually affects young adults, progressing rapidly to heart failure and death. There is no specific treatment except for a heart transplant.
The second project, with Dr Ivan Ahel, looks to validate translational research on DarTG toxin-antitoxin system, a pathway found in tuberculosis. Essentially a back door around tuberculosis' defences, DarTG could be a potential target for small molecules, which could shut down the bacteria. If the project demonstrates that DarTG is the pathogen's Achilles' Heel, it will pave the way for a new class of antibiotics. Aside from offering a potential new therapy for tuberculosis, which will become a greater threat as antibiotic resistance increases, DarTG could also be a weakness in Escherichia coli, superbug Klebsiella pneumonia, and other gram-negative pathogens.
LAB282, initiated in November 2016, is a new £ 13 m partnership between the Oxford University, Oxford University Innovation Ltd, Oxford Sciences Innovation plc and Evotec AG created to identify and develop new approaches to treating serious diseases, which originate from the Oxford University. The goal is to accelerate the achievement of pre-clinical proof of concept for new drugs and to generate new spin-out companies. The name derived from the pantone colour code of "Oxford Blue". For more information, please visit www.lab282.org.
ABOUT OXFORD UNIVERSITY'S MEDICAL SCIENCES DIVISION The Division is one of the largest biomedical research centres in Europe, with over 2,500 people involved in research and more than 2,800 students. The University is rated the best in the world for medicine, and it is home to the UK's top-ranked medical school.
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FORWARD LOOKING STATEMENTS
Information set forth in this press release contains forward-looking statements, which involve a number of risks and uncertainties. The forward-looking statements contained herein represent the judgement of Evotec as of the date of this press release. Such forward-looking statements are neither promises nor guarantees, but are subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties, many of which are beyond our control, and which could cause actual results to differ materially from those contemplated in these forward-looking statements. We expressly disclaim any obligation or undertaking to release publicly any updates or revisions to any such statements to reflect any change in our expectations or any change in events, conditions or circumstances on which any such statement is based.