Exelixis and Aurigene Announce That Promising Preclinical Data to Be Presented at the ENA Symposium Support the Clinical Development of a Novel CDK7 Inhibitor

Exelixis, Inc and Aurigene Discovery Technologies Limited (Aurigene) today disclosed new preclinical data showing that AUR102 has potent anti-tumor activity in a large panel of cancer cell lines. AUR102 is a potent, selective, and orally bioavailable covalent inhibitor of cyclin-dependent kinase 7 (CDK7), which is an important regulator of the cellular transcriptional and cell cycle machinery. Exelixis has an exclusive option for AUR102 under its July 2019 exclusive collaboration, option and license agreement with Aurigene. The new data will be presented in a poster (Abstract 170) at the 32nd EORTC-NCI-AACR (ENA) Symposium, which is being held virtually on October 24-25, 2020.

Murali Ramachandra, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of Aurigene Says: “CDK7 plays a critical role in regulating cellular transcription and cell cycle machinery, making it an exciting target for cancer therapy, The data to be presented at ENA 2020 demonstrate that AUR102 effectively engages CDK7 and inhibits a key mediator of the cell cycle and transcription. The ability to inhibit CDK7 activity with an orally available therapeutic such as AUR102 holds great potential to improve care and outcomes for patients with diverse cancer indications, including breast cancer, prostate cancer, leukemia and lymphoma.”

The abstract provides a summary of results from a detailed characterization of AUR102 in cancer cell lines and animal tumor models. Additional data will be presented in the poster. Key findings included in the abstract are:

  • AUR102 exhibited potent anti-proliferative activity in a large panel of cell lines with induction of cell death in cell lines derived from multiple cancer types.
  • The observed anti-proliferative activity correlated with cellular CDK7 target engagement and decreased levels of P-Ser5 RNAPII, a key mediator of transcription.
  • AUR102 studies showed synergy when used in combination with multiple chemotherapies.
  • Oral dosing with AUR102 resulted in dose-dependent anti-tumor activity, including complete tumor regression in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, acute myeloid leukemia, and triple-negative breast cancer xenograft models.
  • Inhibition of tumor growth was accompanied by complete target engagement as demonstrated in a parallel PK-PD study.
  • AUR102 significantly impacts several pathways and key cancer driver and immune-response genes.

The study authors conclude that the data support clinical evaluation of AUR102 as a single agent and in combination with chemotherapies for the treatment of cancer.

Peter Lamb, Ph.D., Executive Vice President of Scientific Strategy and Chief Scientific Officer of Exelixis Says: “The exciting AUR102 data to be presented at ENA 2020 provide further validation of our partnering strategy, which gives us multiple opportunities to build a pipeline of best-in-class cancer therapies, AUR102 could be the subject of an Investigational New Drug filing later this year, which would be an important value driver for the program itself and for our collaboration with Aurigene. We commend the Aurigene team on their ongoing success in building a robust body of data supporting the broad clinical potential of AUR102.”

Under the terms of the July 2019 agreement, Exelixis made an upfront payment of $10 million for exclusive options to license three preexisting programs from Aurigene. In addition, Exelixis and Aurigene initiated three Aurigene-led drug discovery programs on mutually agreed upon targets, in exchange for additional upfront option payments of $2.5 million per program. Exelixis is also contributing research funding to Aurigene to facilitate discovery and preclinical development work on all six programs. As the programs mature, Exelixis will have the opportunity to exercise an exclusive option for each program up until the time of Investigational New Drug (IND) filing acceptance. If Exelixis decides to exercise an option, it will make an option exercise payment to Aurigene and assume responsibility for that program’s future clinical development and commercialization including global manufacturing. Aurigene will be eligible for clinical development, regulatory, and sales milestones, as well as royalties on sales. Under the terms of the agreement, Aurigene retains limited development and commercial rights for India and Russia.

Source: Exelixis

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