Glythera and Cancer Research UK have announced an agreement giving Glythera exclusive, worldwide rights to the charity’s novel CDK11 inhibitor payload series for the development of multiple antibody drug conjugates (ADCs) conjugated using Glythera’s proprietary PermaLink platform.

Under the terms of the agreement, Glythera and Cancer Research UK will select and optimise toxins from the inhibitor payload series for development in ADCs. Glythera will then progress multiple ADCs, optimised according to cancer cell-kill profiles, for difficult-to-treat tumours. Glythera is currently evaluating a range of clinically important antibody targets and intends to identify its first clinical ADC candidate by 2019.

This agreement follows a successful period of collaboration between the parties during which the viability of selected low molecular weight CDK11 molecules was demonstrated in relevant ADC models.

The CDK11 inhibitor programme has identified a series of low molecular weight, synthetically-tractable compounds which potently inhibit and are selective against other kinase targets. The series demonstrates highly potent anti-proliferative activity in dividing and non-dividing tumour cells and represents an exciting approach for ADCs.

Cancer Research UK will receive an undisclosed up-front fee, milestone payments on programme success for each resulting ADC, and royalties on worldwide product sales. Glythera is responsible for the development, manufacturing and commercialisation of any ADC products resulting from the agreement.

Dr Hamish Ryder, director of Cancer Research UK’s Therapeutic Discovery Laboratories, said: “This collaboration highlights the success of our drug discovery approach in translating the most promising early stage research into new cancer treatments. We’re excited to work with Glythera to identify and advance the very best novel agents and develop targeted treatments for cancer patients. By continuing to bring together industry and world leading academics in this field, we hope to transform the outlook for people with cancers that are the hardest to treat.”