Contractor Almac gets into the clinic with a candidate of its own

Contract drug developer Almac has reached a milestone in its efforts to develop in-house therapeutics, taking its top prospect into Phase I trials.

The company, which makes its money handling R&D and manufacturing for biopharma companies, is heading into the clinic with ALM201, a peptide therapy designed to treat ovarian cancer and other solid tumors. The drug, based on work from Queen's University Belfast, is a subcutaneous treatment that homes in on the cancer antigen CD44.

The treatment, handled by the company's Almac Discovery segment, is the most advanced asset in a pipeline that includes two other preclinical oncology candidates and an undisclosed number of novel targets in early development.

"I am particularly pleased by the progress of our novel drug candidate ALM201 into clinical development," Almac Discovery President Stephen Barr said in a statement. "The drug is the culmination of significant effort by the Almac team over the past years and we believe that it will prove to be an essential complement to the oncologist's armamentarium."

The goal of Almac Discovery is to leverage the parent company's expansive R&D capabilities to do some internal innovation, hoping to create valuable assets that can be sold, partnered or pushed through clinical trials.

But Almac's investment in proprietary R&D doesn't distract from its principle goal of helping other companies get their products to market. The Northern Ireland-based outfit has been steadily expanding its banner business, last year unveiling plans to invest $90 million over 5 years, adding nearly 350 jobs in the process.

- read the statement