Cancer Research UK, LifeArc and Ono Pharmaceutical Co have collaborated to form a multi-million-pound drug discovery alliance.

New immunotherapy drug targets for cancer will be progressed through the partnership, which brings together Cancer Research UK’s network of world-leading scientists and drug discovery expertise, LifeArc’s renowned therapeutic antibody engineering and development expertise, and Ono’s considerable track record in developing cancer immunotherapies.

Expanding on the existing alliance between Cancer Research UK and LifeArc announced in 2017, Ono’s investment and expertise will help identify new therapeutic targets, accelerate target validation within the alliance, and support validated targets through the drug discovery phase.

Dr Hamish Ryder, director of Cancer Research UK’s Therapeutic Discovery Labs, said: “We’re thrilled to welcome Ono to join and expand our successful collaboration with LifeArc and create one of our most ambitious alliances to date. This unique alliance is a melting pot of world-leading cancer research and each organisation’s extensive expertise in oncology drug discovery.

“As we enter into a new age of immuno-therapeutic approaches to cancer care, we hope that this partnership will accelerate the development of new treatments, bringing them to patients with cancer much faster.”

The collaboration will identify targets for the development of both antibody and small molecule therapeutics, boosted by a multi-million pound investment from Ono and a further investment from LifeArc.

Under the terms of the deal, LifeArc will progress antibody projects via its antibody screening and development expertise. Small molecule projects will be taken forward by Cancer Research UK’s Therapeutic Discovery Labs.