Cellectar, Onconova partner on cancer drug conjugates
- Cellectar Biosciences Inc. and Onconova Therapeutics Inc., two small-cap biotechs, have inked a collaboration to develop new targeted drug conjugates for the treatment of cancer.
- The deal will combine Cellectar's delivery platform with small molecule anti-cancer compounds from Onconova. Both companies will have the option to develop any newly conjugated molecules resulting from the partnership.
- Financial terms were not disclosed, but news of the agreement pushed up the share price of both companies up slightly.
Phospholipid ether-drug conjugates (PDC), the focus of the collaboration between Cellectar and Onconova, are designed to target cancer cell membranes, taking a payload of anti-cancer drug direct to the tumor site.
By combining cancer targeting with a cytotoxic payload, this approach could pay dividends with efficacy and increased selectivity.
"Access to novel anti-tumor payloads is key to leveraging our next generation PDC delivery platform technology for the discovery of novel, proprietary targeted anti-cancer therapeutics," said Jim Caruso, president and CEO of Cellectar Biosciences."
The deal includes molecules from the same family as one of Onconova's clinical candidates, briciclib, which is in a Phase 1 dose escalation trial in patients with solid tumors.
Onconova sees the partnership as a potential avenue for improving the targeting of its molecules while extending patent coverage for its drug candidates. Last year, the company made two sets of staff cuts to save money after Baxalta terminated its agreement for the Phase 3 cancer drug rigosertib, in development for the treatment of myelodysplastic syndrome.
Cellectar's pipeline, on the other hand, includes a lead PDC in Phase 1 for relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma and in Phase 2 for a range of B-cell malignancies. Cellectar recently inked a deal with the precision medicine-focused German company Avicenna Oncology to develop PDCs for the treatment of solid tumors.
- Cellectar Biosciences, Inc. Press release
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