Beactica Therapeutics and University of Dundee announce collaboration to develop WRN inhibitors to target cancer

12 January 2021

Uppsala, Sweden and Dundee, Scotland – 12 January 2021

Beactica Therapeutics AB, the Swedish drug discovery company, and University of Dundee, a top-ranked university in the UK for biological sciences, today announced a new research collaboration agreement. The two parties will work together in a project aimed at inhibiting WRN helicase, a protein with significant therapeutic potential for cancers with microsatellite instability.

The collaboration will leverage core capabilities of each partner and build on the work of Professor John Rouse, on the control of chromosome stability and DNA repair in cancer. Beactica will contribute key technical strengths in identifying and optimizing allosteric binders as well as evaluating ternary degradation complexes formed by PROTACs based on such binders. The collaboration will also benefit from top facilities and expertise available at Dundee, including the Drug Discovery Unit, headed by Prof. Paul Wyatt FRSE and the MRC Protein Phosphorylation and Ubiquitylation Unit headed by Prof. Dario Alessi.

WRN (Werner syndrome helicase) is an enzyme required for DNA replication and DNA repair and a validated target for tumours with microsatellite instability (MSI+). “Microsatellites” are short tracts of repetitive nucleotide sequences prone to insertions/deletions during DNA replication. Normally these insertions/deletions are repaired by the mismatch repair pathway but failure to do so causes cancers with typical MSI+. MSI+ is found in ~20% of all colorectal cancers and is also found in endometrial, ovarian and gastric cancers. Inhibitors targeting WRN is expected to induce synthetic lethality in MSI+ tumours due to the protein's essential role. The ability to readily identify MSI tumours enables a clear patient stratification path in the clinic.

Professor Paul Wyatt, Head of the Drug Discovery Unit said “the DDU is unique in the UK academic system in that we translate novel biology research into drug discovery projects to deliver candidate drugs. We are highly aligned with industry colleagues and are delighted to be working with Beactica”

“We are excited to embark on this collaboration with the University of Dundee, an institution with an impressive depth of expertise in the biological sciences. PROTACS represent a clear ‘sweet spot’ for our discovery technology.” said Dr Per Källblad, CEO of Beactica. “With the addition of this exciting collaboration on WRN, we continue to build a pipeline of promising therapeutics for the treatment of patients with limited therapeutic options.”

About Beactica Therapeutics

Beactica Therapeutics AB is a specialist drug discovery company, utilising its proprietary methodologies to evaluate the interactions of molecules in order to generate novel therapeutics. As well as advancing its own pipeline of first-in-class small molecule allosteric modulators of disease-associated proteins, with a focus in oncology, Beactica offers partnerships using its proprietary drug discovery platform. Founded in 2006 based on research carried out at Uppsala University, Beactica has established a reputation as a world-leader in fragment-based drug discovery using SPR biosensor technology. For more information on Beactica Therapeutics, please visit www.beactica.com.

About University of Dundee

 The University of Dundee is the top ranked University in the UK for biological sciences, according to the 2014 Research Excellence Framework. Dundee is internationally recognised for the quality of its teaching and research and has a core mission to transform lives across society. More than 17,000 students are enrolled at Dundee, helping make the city Scotland’s most student-friendly. The University is the central hub for a multi-million pound biotechnology sector in the east of Scotland, which now accounts for 16% of the local economy. For more information please visit www.dundee.ac.uk

For additional information please contact Dr Per Källblad, Beactica CEO, +46 18 56 08 80.

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