Washington Editor

Array BioPharma Inc. and QLT Inc. entered a deal to create a series of small-molecule therapeutics aimed at cancer targets identified by QLT.

QLT, of Vancouver, British Columbia, will be responsible for providing funding based on the number of Array scientists working on the research phase of the agreement.

Array could receive development milestones and royalties based on sales of products resulting from the collaboration.

Representatives from neither company would discuss specific details related to the financial arrangements, timelines for discovery and development or number of targets.

However, Tamara Hicks, QLT's senior manager, investor relations, told BioWorld Today QLT would be using Array's expertise to help it advance some of the programs it gained upon acquiring Kinetek Pharmaceuticals Inc., also of Vancouver, in March.

Prior to the acquisition, QLT and Kinetek had collaborated on a program to develop signal transduction inhibitors for the treatment of eye, immune system and kidney diseases.

According to QLT, Kinetek had a proprietary position on integrin-linked kinase, or ILK. Inhibition of the activity of ILK has potential in a range of clinical applications, including cancer, inflammation, kidney and eye diseases. In cancer, peer-reviewed, published studies of small-molecule ILK inhibitors discovered by Kinetek demonstrated that they block tumor angiogenesis and cause tumor shrinkage in animal models, QLT said.

Meanwhile, Hicks said QLT wanted a partnership with Array because of Array's previous successes.

Array's drug platform focuses on cancer and inflammatory diseases and includes several small-molecule drug candidates designed to regulate targets in therapeutically important biologic pathways. Also, Array partners out its drug discovery technologies and expertise to work with other companies in designing, creating, optimizing and evaluating drug candidates in a range of areas, the company said.

Array's lead drug candidate, ARRY-142886, a mitogen-activated extracellular signal-regulated oncology product, has been licensed to London-based AstraZeneca plc in a deal valued at more than $95 million. (See BioWorld Today, Dec. 19, 2003.)

Array currently is running the Phase I trial on ARRY-142886, Tricia Haugeto, communications manager for Boulder, Colo.-based Array, told BioWorld Today.

The trial is expected to take about a year, at which time AstraZeneca will take over development. In preclinical studies, ARRY-142886 showed efficacy in pancreatic, breast, colon, melanoma and head and neck cancers.

QLT is the maker of Visudyne, a treatment for age-related macular degeneration.

QLT's stock (NASDAQ:QLTI) gained 40 cents Tuesday to close at $16.38, while Array's stock (NASDAQ:ARRY) gained 13 cents to close at $579.

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