BioWorld International Correspondent

LONDON RiboTargets Ltd. made a move to diversify its portfolio away from anti-infectives and into cancer, signing a deal with the Institute of Cancer Research to identify and develop inhibitors of the chaperone protein HSP90.

Chaperone proteins such as HSP90 ensure oncogenic proteins that are responsible for uncontrolled cell division maintain the correct shape to function. The ICR, of London, has identified some inhibitors of HSP90, and in this collaboration RiboTargets will use its structure-based design capability to identify new inhibitors.

CEO Simon Sturge told BioWorld International, “We expect this collaboration to rapidly generate value. The ICR is already supervising Phase I trials of an HSP90 inhibitor and we have other small-molecule inhibitors at an early stage.”

No financial details were given but the partners said they will both employ “significant resources” in the collaboration. ICR will continue to provide expertise in the biology of HSP90 and in preclinical and clinical trials. RiboTargets, based in Cambridge, will be responsible for the development and commercialization of any products.

“This is a very important deal for us. We are very strong in chemistry and structure-based design,” Sturge said. “Now we get access to biological and clinical expertise.”

RiboTargets was founded in July 1997 to apply knowledge of the crystal structure of the bacterial ribosome and skills in structure-based drug design to the discovery and development of anti-infectives. Since then it has validated its drug discovery engine, Ribodock, producing 14 anti-infective compounds. Last week the company acquired exclusive rights to the molecular structure of the 30S subunit of the bacterial ribosome from the UK Medical Research Council and Sturge said this offers a further 20 or so potential targets for antibacterial drugs.

In October RiboTargets raised £32 million in a third-round fund raising, one of the largest private rounds for a European company to date, and £12 million more than it set out to raise.