FORMA Therapeutics and CRT form two virtual companies to advance deubiquitination assets

FORMA Therapeutics and Cancer Research Technology, Ltd. (CRT) announced today the formation of two new virtual Asset Discovery and Development Companies (ADDCos) with novel chemical matter targeting undisclosed deubiquitinating enzymes (DUBs). ADDCos are virtual companies seeking to achieve rapid innovation in a compelling scientific area through the collaboration of academic thought leaders, FORMA drug discovery scientists and a world class development network.

This builds on an ongoing initiative between FORMA and CRT, the commercial arm of Cancer Research UK, to discover innovative tools, technologies and therapeutic drug candidates against a variety of DUBs that regulate protein homeostasis. Under their agreement, FORMA is pairing its ultra-efficient drug discovery capabilities with expertise from CRT’s Discovery Laboratories (CRT-DL) in translating academic discoveries and the exclusive world-class academic network of Cancer Research UK scientists.

Protein ubiquitination, a highly regulated cellular process controlled in part by DUBs to maintain protein homeostasis with appropriate protein levels and function, contributes to a large number of wide-ranging human diseases when aberrantly dysregulated. DUBs, as members of diverse protein complexes, are key regulators of ubiquitin recycling, processing, proofreading and disassembly. DUBs contain a catalytic domain surrounded by one or more accessory domains, some of which contribute to target recognition, and collectively represent molecular features ideally suited for therapeutic intervention.

“DUBs continue to prove to be highly attractive drug discovery targets warranting further exploration,” stated Steven Tregay, Ph.D., President and CEO, FORMA Therapeutics. “A tremendous impact has been made by organizing diverse scientific disciplines within a consortia framework to advance protein homeostasis research and discoveries into active research. Additionally, this partnership's discovery programs, by virtue of structural and computational insights, have already helped accelerate new advances in medicinal chemistry."

These virtual companies represent the collective efforts of a collaborative consortium consisting of FORMA, CRT-DL and five Cancer Research UK scientists including:

  • Professor Michael Clague - University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK
  • Dr. Benedikt Kessler – The University of Oxford, UK
  • Dr. David Komander – Medical Research Council, Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, UK
  • Dr. Huib Ovaa – Chemical Biology Laboratory, Netherlands Cancer Institute, The Netherlands.
  • Professor Sylvie Urbé - University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK

Keith Blundy, CEO of Cancer Research Technology, said: “The unique structure of this partnership unites complementary skills and capabilities to develop this very exiting emerging area of biology. The teams behind the newly formed virtual companies have proven expertise in translating research discoveries into potential new drugs - that may ultimately bring breakthrough cancer treatments to patients.”