Artios exercises option to in-license potential first-in-class nuclease development programme


Artios Pharma, a leading DNA Damage Response (DDR) company developing innovative new treatments for cancer, today announces that it has exercised its option to in-license the first nuclease drug development programme under its research collaboration and option agreement with Masaryk University in the Czech Republic. The collaboration was formed in June 2017 to discover and develop novel cancer treatments by targeting DNA nucleases involved in the DDR.

Commenting on today’s announcement, Niall Martin, Chief Executive Officer at Artios Pharma, said: “We are delighted to announce the in-licensing of our first nuclease programme from Masaryk University. This reflects the strong progress that has been made under our research and development collaboration with Drs Krejci and Paruch at Masaryk University on DDR nucleases. The in-licensed programme has the potential to become a novel, first-in-class DDR targeted treatment for cancer, which complements our current development pipeline and further supports our position as a leader in the DDR field.”

Dr Lumir Krejci, the principal investigator on DDR nucleases at Masaryk University, said: “We are extremely pleased that Artios has chosen to in-license the lead nuclease research programme under our strategic collaboration, and I am very proud of our team here at Masaryk University. We believe nucleases have the potential to provide a new wave of innovative DDR-based cancer therapies and are confident in Artios’ ability to translate this programme to the clinic, to benefit the lives of cancer patients.”

For more information about Artios Pharma Ltd., please contact:

Artios Pharma Ltd.
Niall Martin, Chief Executive Officer
Nick Staples, Chief Business Officer
Tel: +44 (0)12 2380 4180

Consilium Strategic Communications
Mary-Jane Elliott, Sukaina Virji, Lindsey Neville, Melissa Gardiner
Tel: +44 (0)20 3709 5700

About Artios Pharma Ltd.
Artios is a leading DNA Damage Response (DDR) company focused on developing first-in-class treatments for cancer. Established in May 2016, the Company is led by an experienced scientific and leadership team with proven expertise in DDR drug discovery. Artios is developing a pipeline of differentiated, next-generation DDR programmes which includes its lead programme Pol theta. The Company has built a strong in-house DDR platform and established a network of collaborations with leading DNA repair researchers worldwide, including Cancer Research UK (CRUK), and Masaryk University. The Company’s investors include SV Health Investors, M Ventures, Touchstone Innovations, Arix Bioscience plc, CRT Pioneer Fund (managed by Sixth Element Capital), and AbbVie Ventures. Artios is based at the Babraham Research Campus in Cambridge, UK.

About Masaryk University
Masaryk University, located in Brno, is the second-largest public university in the Czech Republic. At present it comprises nine faculties with over 200 departments, institutes and clinics. Recognised as one of the most important teaching and research institutions in the Czech Republic and a highly-regarded Central European university, it has been infused with a strong democratic spirit ever since its establishment in 1919. One of Masaryk University’s top priorities is scientific research. In addition to attaining a leading position in research grant competitions, the university has made considerable financial investments – especially at its newly erected campus – in order to enhance research and teaching capacity, facilitate the development of tools for the transfer of knowledge and improve support for research and innovation.

About DNA Damage Response (DDR)
DNA damage, which occurs in cells throughout the body every day, can result in mutations and ultimately cell death if not repaired correctly. Cells therefore possess a network of DNA repair pathways, together known as the DNA Damage Response (DDR), to correct the damage. Cancer cells which have typically lost or down-regulated some of their DNA repair pathways, rely on alternative, often upregulated DNA repair pathways to repair the ongoing DNA damage required for cell survival. DDR targeted cancer treatments aim to kill these cancer cells by inhibiting such DNA repair pathway(s) such that the burden of DNA damage becomes lethal, while sparing healthy cells which continue to be able to repair their DNA. In this way, DDR inhibitors have the potential to act as single agent therapies that selectively kill tumour cells in cancers with certain repair defects. However, they can also be used as potentiating agents to DNA damaging agents and radiotherapy, and potentially in combination with novel therapies including immune-oncology treatments.

About the DDR Nucleases Collaboration with Masaryk University
DNA nucleases are a family of enzymes responsible for processing strands of DNA. Universally present in all cells, a number of nucleases play a crucial role in DNA repair by recognising sites of damage and cleaving them from the surrounding DNA. Nucleases participate in various DNA repair processes essential for genome maintenance, which involve DNA replication, base excision repair, nucleotide excision repair, mismatch repair, and double strand break repair. Artios believes that nuclease inhibitors could have broad potential as selective treatments for a range of cancers, particularly in tumours that have defects in their DNA repair processes and are reliant on their remaining nuclease-dependent DDR pathways.

The research collaboration with Dr Lumir Krejci and Dr Kamil Paruch at Masaryk University is focused on the discovery and development of cancer therapies against several promising nuclease DDR targets. Under the terms of the agreement, Artios has the option to in-license one or more of these nuclease programmes for further development and commercialisation.