Munich/Martinsried, Germany, April 12, 2022 – Secarna Pharmaceuticals GmbH & Co. KG (“Secarna”), a biopharmaceutical company focusing on the discovery and development of next-generation antisense oligonucleotide (ASO) therapies to address challenging or previously undruggable targets reports that its collaboration partner Evotec SE (Frankfurt Stock Exchange: EVT, MDAX/TecDAX, ISIN: DE0005664809, NASDAQ: EVO) has reached another programme designation within its neuroscience collaboration with Bristol Myers Squibb (NYSE:BMY) triggering a payment of US$ 16 m to Evotec.
The programme further adds to a fast-growing pipeline in neurodegeneration that also includes EVT8683, which entered clinical development end of 2021. In contrast to previously nominated programmes, which are small molecule based, the newly designated project utilises an antisense-based approach. Evotec is eligible to receive tiered royalties of up to low double-digit percentages of sales of any commercial products resulting from the collaboration with Bristol Myers Squibb. Additionally, Evotec can earn up to US$ 250 m in development and sales milestones within the collaboration.
Antisense oligonucleotides (“ASOs”) are precisely engineered chemical structures that specifically bind to a targeted RNA to interfere with gene expression. By specifically inhibiting the production of disease-driving proteins in the cells of interest, ASOs can provide new pathways to tackle targets that are difficult to regulate or were previously deemed “undruggable”. The programme leverages ASOs originating from the LNAplus™ ASO discovery and development platform established and validated by Secarna Pharmaceuticals with whom Evotec entered a strategic partnership in August 2020.
“Congratulations to our partners at Evotec for reaching programme designation within its neuroscience collaboration with Bristol Myers Squibb”, said Alexander Gebauer, M.D., Ph.D., CEO of Secarna Pharmaceuticals. “We are very proud that the programme leverages ASOs derived from our proprietary discovery and development platform LNAplus™ and this milestone further emphasizes our platform’s versatility and efficiency - two key competitive advantages of LNAplus™. This collaboration also shows that our ASOs have the potential to provide truly novel therapies to people living with a wide range of neurodegenerative diseases considered difficult-to-treat or even untreatable.”
The neuroscience collaboration between Evotec and Bristol Myers Squibb aims to identify disease-modifying treatments for a broad range of neurodegenerative diseases. Currently approved drugs only offer short-term management of the patients’ symptoms and there is a huge unmet medical need for therapeutic modalities that slow down or reverse disease progression. The program leverages Secarna’s LNAplus™ platform in combination with Evotec’s industrialised iPSC platform using patient-derived disease models, which is one of the largest and most sophisticated platforms in the industry.
About Secarna Pharmaceuticals GmbH & Co. KG
Secarna Pharmaceuticals is the leading independent European next-generation antisense drug discovery and development company addressing high unmet medical needs in immuno-oncology and immunology, as well as viral, neurodegenerative and cardiometabolic diseases. Secarna’s mission is to maximize the performance and output of its proprietary LNAplus™ antisense oligonucleotide discovery platform, as well as to develop highly specific, safe, and efficacious best-in-class antisense therapies. With over 15 development programs, including both proprietary pipeline projects and partnered programs, Secarna focuses on targets in indications where antisense-based approaches have clear potential benefits over other therapeutic modalities. www.secarna.com
About Evotec and iPSC
Induced pluripotent stem cells (also known as iPS cells or iPSCs) are a type of pluripotent stem cell that can be generated directly from adult cells. The iPSC technology was pioneered by Shinya Yamanaka’s lab in Kyoto, Japan, who showed in 2006 that the introduction of four specific genes encoding transcription factors could convert adult cells into pluripotent stem cells. He was awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize along with Sir John Gurdon “for the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent”. Pluripotent stem cells hold great promise in the field of regenerative medicine. Because they can propagate indefinitely, as well as give rise to every other cell type in the body (such as neurons, heart, pancreatic and liver cells), they represent a single source of cells that could be used to replace those lost to damage or disease.
Evotec has built an industrialised iPSC infrastructure that represents one of the largest and most sophisticated iPSC platforms in the industry. Evotec’s iPSC platform has been developed over the last years with the goal to industrialise iPSC-based drug screening in terms of throughput, reproducibility and robustness to reach the highest industrial standards, and to use iPSC-based cells in cell therapy approaches via the Company’s proprietary EVOcells platform.
About Evotec SE
Evotec is a life science company with a unique business model that delivers on its mission to discover and develop highly effective therapeutics and make them available to the patients. The Company’s multimodality platform comprises a unique combination of innovative technologies, data and science for the discovery, development, and production of first-in-class and best-in-class pharmaceutical products. Evotec leverages this “Data-driven R&D Autobahn to Cures” for proprietary projects and within a network of partners including all Top 20 Pharma and over 800 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, as well as other healthcare stakeholders. Evotec has strategic activities in a broad range of currently underserved therapeutic areas, including e.g. neurology, oncology, as well as metabolic and infectious diseases. Within these areas of expertise, Evotec aims to create the world-leading co-owned pipeline for innovative therapeutics and has to-date established a portfolio of more than 200 proprietary and co-owned R&D projects from early discovery to clinical development. Evotec operates globally with more than 4,000 highly qualified people. The Company’s 14 sites offer highly synergistic technologies and services and operate as complementary clusters of excellence. For additional information please go to www.evotec.com and follow us on Twitter @Evotec and LinkedIn.
Secarna Pharmaceuticals GmbH & Co. KG
Alexander Gebauer, MD, PhD
Secarna Pharmaceuticals GmbH & Co. KG
Am Klopferspitz 19
Tel.: +49 (0)89 215 46 375
Anne Hennecke/Vera Lang
MC Services AG
Tel.: +49 (0)211.52 92 52 15