Medicxi, Taiho infuse €30M into Evotec spinout — eyeing cancer meds targeting DNA damage response pathways
Betting on DNA damage response as the next big frontier in cancer therapies, Evotec is spinning out some of its discovery-stage work and drug targets into a startup dubbed Breakpoint Therapeutics.
Medicxi and Taiho Ventures are jumping on board for an initial €30 million ($33.6 million) haul alongside the German biotech. For Medicxi the project aligns closely with its asset-centric investing philosophy, while Taiho will be drawing from an expanded investment pool that it has previously indicated would be reserved for first-in-class oncology programs.
Evotec’s own equity will be kept under 50%, it added.
The underlying concept is fairly well established: While normal cells utilize signaling pathways to detect and respond to damage that affects their DNA, many cancer cells have genetically altered DNA damage response pathways that allow them to resist existing therapies like radiation and chemotherapy. But these same changes can also expose them to drugs that modulate DDR pathways. PARP inhibitors — such as Merck and AstraZeneca’s trailblazing Lynparza — are examples of such a drug.
We don’t know much yet about the targets Breakpoint will pursue, except that they expect to deliver the first IND-ready drug in 2022.
Daniel Speidel, a former University of Sydney researcher who moved to Hamburg to lead Evotec’s oncology initiatives last year, will oversee the highly virtual set up. The Evotec scientists who have initiated and been working on these projects will continue to screen and shape the drugs on the company’s platform, which has attracted a good number of biopharma partnerships.
His co-managing director will be Jonathan Hollick, who’s based out of Evotec’s Oxford site.
Social image: Evotec Hamburg Site