BioWorld International Correspondent

PARIS - Hybrigenics SA is refocusing its research activities on ubiquitin-specific proteases and their inhibitors in the treatment of cancer.

Paris-based Hybrigenics, which specializes in the analysis of specific biological networks of interacting proteins for the development of small-molecule drug candidates for cancer, pointed out that ubiquitin-specific proteases (USPs) are a family of cysteine proteases involved in the regulation of protein degradation, and that the process of degradation in turn regulates numerous cell functions, such as proliferation.

The company has identified and validated several USPs involved in the control of cell proliferation and regards them as particularly interesting targets for the development of new anticancer drugs. In particular, it has discovered and patented original chemical families that are USP inhibitors capable of exerting antiproliferation activity and currently are being optimized in vivo.

As part of Hybrigenics' new strategy, its Dutch subsidiary, Semaia, has sold its portfolio of patents on the Wnt-signal transduction pathway to Kiadis Pharma, of Groningen, the Netherlands, and those on EPACs proteins and their modulators to the University of Utrecht.

In addition to its USP program, Hybrigenics is continuing the clinical development of a vitamin D analog, having acquired worldwide exclusive rights to inecalcitol, a synthetic vitamin D analog, under a licensing agreement signed in February 2006 with Theramex, a Monaco-based subsidiary of Merck KGaA, of Darmstadt, Germany, the University of Gent and the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium.

Hybrigenics has rights to all clinical indications and is developing an oral formulation of the drug for the treatment of certain cancers, such as advanced androgen-independent prostate cancer.

In addition, Hybrigenics provides laboratory research services to third parties in the area of protein-protein interactions in all biological and therapeutic fields. It is best known for its yeast-two-hybrid screening platform, for which it received ISO 9001:2000 certification in 2004, but it launched a new service in 2006 involving the screening of small-molecule compounds for the discovery of protein-protein interaction inhibitors.