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2 April, 2020 - 16:06 By Tony Quested

Sareum buoyed by China pharma licensing deal

Sareum Holdings plc, a Cambridge-based specialist cancer drug discovery and development business, has entered into an agreement with a China-based specialty pharmaceutical company.

The unnamed Chinese company has been granted an exclusive worldwide licence to develop, manufacture and commercialise certain small molecule inhibitors of FLT3+Aurora kinases including Sareum’s lead candidate SAR-20293, which is said to have shown potential in preclinical models of acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) and other leukaemias.

The licensee is principally engaged in research and development, production and sales of innovative drugs, including oncology drugs, in China and is listed on the main market of the Shanghai Stock Exchange.

The licensee will fund all future development activities in relation to the compounds and has been granted sole rights to market any resulting products worldwide.

Sareum will receive an initial upfront payment of approximately £50,000.  A further payment of approximately £0.9 million will be payable to Sareum if certain milestones related to the oral bioavailability of the compounds are achieved within nine months from the date of the agreement. 

Sareum will assign certain patents in respect of the compounds to the licensee on receipt of the development payment.  Sareum will also be entitled to receive a future milestone payment in the event that an Investigational New Drug or equivalent application is made in China or any other country.

The UK business is also eligible to receive certain revenues from the commercialisation of the products by the licensee outside of China and to receive revenues relating to their commercialisation should the licensee execute an on-licence of the compounds and resulting products to a third party.

Sareum was advised and assisted on the agreement by Cambridge-based technology brokerage Link China Pharma Solutions.

Sareum’s CEO, Dr Tim Mitchell, said: “We are delighted with this important global licensing deal for our FLT3+Aurora inhibitor programme, which could generate significant milestone revenue in the next nine months. 

“We believe the Licensee has the resources and expertise to further advance these molecules through the clinic to commercialisation in China.

“With this programme now partnered, we are wholly focused on advancing the development of our proprietary TYK2/JAK1 inhibitors through preclinical studies and look forward to providing updates as material milestones are reached.”

Sareum also unveiled its unaudited half-year results for the six months ended December 31. It recorded a post-tax loss of £0.61m (2018: loss of £0.76m) and at period end had £1 million cash (£0.92m at June 30; £1.54m at December 31, 2018).

Dr Mitchell said: “We continue to focus our efforts on advancing our proprietary dual TYK2/JAK1 inhibitor programmes through preclinical development. 

“We are convinced that these programmes have the potential to provide a novel oral immunotherapy approach to addressing unmet needs in autoimmune diseases and cancer. 

“Furthermore, industry interest in the TYK2/JAK1 mechanism of action remains high, with multiple late-stage clinical trials ongoing and readouts expected during the next 12-18 months for the most advanced candidates in this class.

“We believe that positive results in these trials would support the positioning and potential value of our own candidates and, alongside our own data, could be attractive to potential licensing partners.”

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