Boehringer Ingelheim and the University of Dundee have highlighted the success of the PROTAC drug discovery program, and thus extended their ongoing anti-cancer alliance.
The collaboration will continue to develop new medicines that target and destroy key cancer causing proteins, by bringing together the expertise of Professor Alessio Ciulli, one of the pioneers in the field of Proteolysis targeting chimeras (PROTACs), based in the School of Life Sciences at Dundee, with Boehringer Ingelheim’s pharmaceutical expertise and commitment to bring innovative medicines to patients with cancer.
The partners have developed a structure-based design approach as a solid basis to accelerate further development. In addition, to boost PROTAC research around the world, Boehringer Ingelheim has made the protein degrader compound MZ-1, developed at the University of Dundee, freely available through its opnMe portal in 2018. Further PROTAC molecules are considered for release on opnMe based on the success of this initiative.
The joint team has reported recent progress in a number of scientific publications, including most recently in the journal Nature Chemical Biology, which highlights their approach to use three dimensional pictures at atomic resolution to design highly potent and selective drug candidates.
The new approach has yielded the first PROTAC which shreds SMARCA2, a protein that drives the tumors of more than 20,000 new patients with cancer each year and for which drug discovery approaches have otherwise been unsuccessful to date.
“PROTACs are a disruptive therapeutic modality which are bringing previously deemed undruggable targets within reach. Our collaboration will continue to work to bring this new class of medicines to patients,” said Darryl B. McConnell, senior vice president and research site head, Boehringer Ingelheim.
He also confirmed that “The joint team is making rapid progress and have successfully reached the first collaboration milestone setting a solid basis for achieving our goals.”