Evotec and Celgene unite to drive forward oncology R&D

Evotec and Celgene have joined forces in a long-term strategic drug discovery and development partnership, to identify new therapeutics in oncology.

The first focus for the collaboration will be to investigate solid tumours. Evotec’s groundbreaking phenotypic screening platform will play a critical part in the research.

Cord Dohrmann Evotec

Dr. Cord Dohrmann, CSO, Evotec

Dr Cord Dohrmann , chief scientific officer of Evotec, said, “We are extremely pleased and encouraged about the opportunity to enter into a second major alliance with our colleagues at US-based Celgene.

“Our first alliance in neurodegenerative diseases has already proven that both companies and teams are united by the same spirit and objectives bringing new and better treatment to patients.”

Evotec, a drug discovery contract research organisation (CRO) based in Germany, is due to receive an upfront payment of $65 million for its role in the partnership, plus the potential to earn “significant” as yet undisclosed payments, as well as “tiered royalties” on each licensed programme. Celgene will have exclusive opt-in rights to license all programmes developed through its collaboration with Evotec.

Celgene is renowned for its research and development in cancer. It has focused on expanding its drugs pipeline in oncology drugs in recent years. The company’s blood cancer blockbuster, Revlimid (lenalidomide) comes to the end of its US patent in 2022. This drug brings in at least 60% of Celgene’s revenue.

Evotec and Celgene partnered up in October 2017 to work on degenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s. They signed a five-year agreement whereby Evotec received an upfront payment of €43m ($45m) and up to €240m ($250m) in milestones.

Celgene, in return, gains exclusive options to in-license worldwide rights to the programmes, as will have access to Evotec’s iPSC platform (induced pluripotent stem cell lines) through which it can test its own candidates designed to tackle neurodegenerative disease models.

Earlier this month, Evotec expanded its genome-editing CRISPR-based technology (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats), a naturally occurring bacterial immune system that scientists have harnessed for mammalian cells. This involves gene deletion and human, cell-based disease models to identify novel targets for downstream drug discovery programmes.

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