The exploitation of Evotec‘s unique induced pluripotent stem cell (“iPSC”) platform for the systematic drug screening in patient-derived disease models will enjoy the new possibilities coming from the new strategic drug discovery and development collaboration agreement signed between the German company and Celgene Corporation. The five years long project to discover a new class of disease-modifying therapeutics for neurodegenerative diseases will initially address Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple other neurodegenerative disorders.
According to the companies, Evotec will receive an upfront payment of $ 45 million, while Celgene holds exclusive options to in-license worldwide rights to Evotec programmes developed from the company’s compound library. Further payments up to $ 250 mln in milestones shall also be possible, as well as up to low double-digit royalties on in-licensed programmes. Additionally, Celgene may also take the opportunity to screen compounds from its proprietary CELMoD(R) library using Evotec’s iPSC platform to evaluate activity in models of neurodegenerative diseases.: “We are very excited about the opportunity to collaborate with Celgene, a medical innovation leader in the industry – said Dr Werner Lanthaler, chief executive officer of Evotec -. Celgene perfectly complements and accelerates our business model and vision in bringing first-in-class therapeutics to patients with neurodegenerative diseases, where the burden for society is increasing dramatically”
R&D activities will be run at Evotec’s state-of-the-art industrialised iPSC infrastructure, which has been optimised in terms of reproducibility and robustness to reach the highest industrial standards. A significant contribution to this optimisation came from the CureMotorNeuron project, run in collaboration with the laboratories of prof. Kevin Eggan, PhD, and Lee Rubin, PhD at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute. Additional aspects of the platform were built up through Evotec’s more than 10-year collaboration with the CHDI Foundation in the field of Huntington’s disease. Dr Cord Dohrmann, chief scientific officer of Evotec, added: “The fact that many promising drug candidates fail during clinical development highlights the limited predictive and translational value of pre-clinical disease models commonly used during the drug discovery process. This is particularly true for neurodegenerative diseases, a field that has proven intractable as novel therapeutics for Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and motor neuron disease have largely failed. The use of patient-derived disease models for drug screening represents a paradigm shift as it places the testing of human disease relevance at the front end of the drug discovery process and is expected to lead to the discovery of more disease-relevant drug candidates but also more focused clinical development paths.”