The license arises from a successful tripartite research collaboration and option agreement entered into in March 2002, building on studies funded by Cancer Research UK, The Institute of Cancer Research and Wellcome Trust.
Vernalis will pay CRT and The Institute of Cancer Research a signature fee, milestone payments, royalties on sales and a proportion of sublicensing fees. Subsequent to Vernalis signing the licence agreement with CRT and The Institute of Cancer Research, on 16th September 2004, the company has entered into an exclusive collaboration and licence agreement with the Institute for Biomedical Research Inc (Novartis).
Hsp90, a chaperone protein, is of specific interest in anti-cancer drug development as many of the signalling proteins that behave aberrantly in cancer cells require Hsp90 to ensure that they are maintained in an active form.
Professor Paul Workman, Director of the Cancer Research UK Centre for Cancer Therapeutics and leader of the Hsp90 drug development project at The Institute of Cancer Research said: "Drugs that inhibit Hsp90 have the advantage of simultaneously blocking several different pathways that are vitally important for the growth and spread of most cancers. They therefore have the potential to benefit patients with many different types of cancer and to prevent the development of drug resistance which is major limitation of current treatments."
Keith Blundy, CRT's Chief Operating Officer, commented: "I am delighted that the research collaboration between CRT, The Institute of Cancer Research and Vernalis has culminated in this license and furthermore that the continued development of Hsp90 inhibitors has been secured by the joint research venture between Vernalis and Novartis."