FORMA Therapeutics and the University of Oxford announced on May 9, 2018 that they have entered into a collaboration and license agreement to identify, validate and develop deubiquitinating enzyme (DUB) inhibitors for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.
DUBs are a family of over a hundred proteases that play important roles in protein and cellular homeostasis, processes that are critical to normal cell function. Evidence suggests that targeting this enzyme class can provide a means to ameliorate the effects of disrupted cellular mechanisms that have been linked to the progression of serious neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease. This group of enzymes offers an exciting opportunity for the generation of novel disease-modifying therapies.
The FORMA/Oxford collaboration brings together world class expertise in disease molecular pathology and DUB biology from University teams, including the Alzheimer’s Research UK Oxford Drug Discovery Institute (ODDI) and the Oxford Parkinson’s Disease Centre (OPDC), and FORMA’s deep expertise in small molecule drug design and development.
John Davis, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer at ODDI, stated “We are very pleased to be expanding our initial collaboration with FORMA Therapeutics, whose world leading medicinal chemistry expertise in the DUB space will create a powerful synergy with the University of Oxford’s disease and neuronal cell biology expertise. We hope to make rapid progress towards identifying new treatment approaches and raising hope of some relief for the families coping with these dreadful conditions.”
Under the terms of the agreement, FORMA will fund a multi-year research program at the University of Oxford focusing on DUBs implicated in the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative disease. “We are excited about this collaboration with Oxford University that complements FORMA’s innovative efforts in drug discovery and are confident that scientists at Oxford will help us rapidly advance these novel approaches to progressive neurological diseases,” said Michael Ahlijanian, Head of Neurosciences at FORMA Therapeutics.
FORMA is granted the right to develop and commercialize DUB inhibitors studied under the collaboration. Steve Tregay CEO, FORMA Therapeutics said “Collaborating with world leaders in both DUB biology and neuroscience is an important strategic expansion of our work in neurodegeneration. We are thrilled to have such a substantial collaboration with Oxford University to advance the development of therapies for diseases with such high unmet need.”