Kancera has entered into an agreement with Acturum Life Science AB in order to evaluate and further develop the unique Fractalkine inhibitor AZD8797. Published research points to that Fractalkine signaling probably contributes to the growth and spread of tumors and the pain that often affects cancer patients. In addition, the presence of Fractalkine has been proposed to be associated with a lack of efficacy of immuno-oncology drugs. Taken together, these findings provide a new perspective of Fractalkine signaling as a target for cancer drug development. Kancera will now evaluate how efficiently the Fractalkine inhibitor AZD8797 may stop tumor growth and relieve severe pain.
Originally, the candidate drug AZD8797 was successfully developed by AstraZeneca in Södertälje as an effective inhibitor of Fractalkine signaling. The present documentation of AZD8797 includes drug properties, safety, toxicology, and production. Kancera’s assessment is that this documentation is likely to meet requirements for an application to undertake clinical trials against cancer. AstraZeneca originally developed AZD8797 against multiple sclerosis and showed effect of AZD8797 in a preclinical model of the disease (see the publication in PNAS April 8, 2014 vol. 111, no. 14, p 5409). Acturum Life Science acquired the rights to the Fractalkine project from AstraZeneca as part of Acturum’s acquisition of the research facility in Södertälje. However, AstraZeneca has retained the rights to develop Fractalkine inhibitors against respiratory diseases.
The agreement with Acturum Life Science gives Kancera right to evaluate AZD8797 in preclinical studies and then to acquire the project. This agreement entails no expenses for Kancera apart from investments in the patent portfolio and in the scientific evaluation.
If Kancera chooses to acquire the Fractalkine project, following the preclinical evaluation phase, the total payment to Acturum will consist of 6 million Kancera shares divided into three tranches, which are due at pre-defined success-milestones. Accordingly, the two companies share the risk in the product development through the first study in man. Kancera intends to apply for orphan drug designation, covering the Fractalkine inhibitor, in order to ensure at least 10 years of exclusivity on the market in Europe and 7 years in the United States.
Since AZD8797 already meets the pharmaceutical properties Kancera considers necessary for the biological evaluation of the effect against cancer, the project can be run without significantly affecting the resource allocation to Kancera’s other projects.