Evotec and Rappta Therapeutics enter discovery and development partnership focused on oncology target




Hamburg, Germany, 24 November 2020:
Evotec SE (Frankfurt Stock Exchange: EVT, MDAX/TecDAX, ISIN: DE0005664809) today announced a new multi-year drug development partnership with Rappta Therapeutics, a Finland-based biopharmaceutical company, focused on an innovative oncology target. 

Under the partnership, Evotec will support Rappta’s programme of developing small molecule activators of the enzyme Protein Phosphatase 2A (“PP2A”), which downregulates multiple oncogenic signalling pathways responsible for driving cancer progression. Although PP2A is a key tumour suppressor and has a critical function regulating protein de-phosphorylation and tumour growth, it has to-date been very difficult to target pharmaceutically.

Through its deep understanding of PP2A biology and the use of proprietary technology, Rappta has uniquely defined the PP2A target which has allowed them to come up with a series of first-in-class compounds which glue the three subunits of PP2A together, thus driving PP2A complex reformation and restoring its tumour suppressive function. Evotec and Rappta intend to develop the programme which is currently in the late lead optimisation stage towards IND-enabling studies over the course of their partnership.

The collaboration leverages Evotec’s industry-leading integrated platform for drug discovery and development including Evotec’s oncology expertise coupled with state-of-the-art technologies to maximise probability of success even in fields of cutting-edge and difficult science. Evotec receives undisclosed research funding and is eligible for success-based milestone payments.

Dr Craig Johnstone, Chief Operating Officer of Evotec, commented: “Evotec is pleased to initiate this first collaboration with Rappta Therapeutics supporting their novel and next generation platform targeting PP2A against cancer. Evotec has a long and successful track record in the oncology field, having achieved numerous milestones including multiple pre-clinical candidates and clinical-stage assets together with our partners. We have been thoroughly impressed with the progress that Rappta has made in mapping out the PP2A target and look forward to working with them to continue their success by delivering solutions for patients with unmet medical needs.”

Mikko Mannerkoski, the CEO of Rappta Therapeutics, added: “We are excited to be working on building a new platform and a novel class of pharmaceuticals to treat cancer. Rappta has a unique team whose deep understanding of PP2A biochemistry, structural biology, biogenesis, medicinal chemistry, and drug development is further supported by Evotec’s capabilities. This is the perfect combination of expertise to translate these discoveries to the clinic.” 


Reversible phosphorylation is a fundamental mechanism controlling all cell signaling and communication and this process is regulated through the opposing actions of phosphatases (which remove phosphate groups from proteins) and kinases (which add phosphate groups to proteins). Altered cellular signaling as a result of protein hyperphosphorylation, results in the sustained growth of malignant cells and is a hallmark of human cancer development and progression. Protein Phosphatase 2A (PP2A) is a serine/threonine phosphatase that functions as a tumor suppressor by negatively regulating multiple oncogenic signaling pathways responsible for driving cancer progression. PP2A is made up of three subunits, that form a complete and active enzyme when bound together. The active enzyme is comprised of a scaffolding subunit (A), serving as the structural platform for the assembly of the catalytic (C) subunit and one substrate directing regulatory (B) subunit. In cancer, the tumor-suppressive activity of PP2A is often disrupted as a result of the inability of the three subunits to bind together correctly, rendering the PP2A enzyme inactive. This inactivation of PP2A, leads to increased oncogenic signaling, driving cancer progression and growth. Therefore, the reactivation of PP2A affords a unique therapeutic strategy to restore PP2A activity and cellular homeostasis, that can be used for the treatment of cancer and a broad range of other diseases. 



Rappta Therapeutics, a private biotech with operations in Finland and the US, is developing first-in-class anti-cancer drugs activating protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A). It has developed proprietary tools and a unique understanding of PP2A which allows it to therapeutically reactivate PP2A, a critical enzyme regulating protein de-phosphorylation and tumor growth, with the potential to create a new class of anti-cancer drugs. Rappta has a strong scientific, management and commercial team. Its scientific team represents world-leading expertise in PP2A. Rappta Therapeutics is backed by blue-chip investors Advent Life Sciences, Novartis Venture Fund, Novo Holdings and a family office. For more information, go to www.rappta-therapeutics.com.



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.