Evotec teams up with Ohio State on a new cancer drug

German contract researcher Evotec has paired off with Ohio State to help the school develop an in-house cancer prospect, lending its technology and expertise.

Under the agreement, Evotec will work with the lab of Roger Briesewitz, a professor at Ohio State's Comprehensive Cancer Center (OSUCCC). Briesewitz's team has discovered a novel way of targeting KRAS, a gene whose mutations are tied to lung, colon, pancreatic and other cancers.

Evotec CEO Werner Lanthaler

And Evotec, with its expansive compound library and experience in preclinical development, is stepping in to help validate OSUCCC's leads and push them toward clinical development, CEO Werner Lanthaler said.

"Working and initiating a strategic dialog with OSUCCC is a great privilege for us, especially in such an important field in oncology," Lanthaler said in a statement. "Activating mutations of KRAS are one of the most frequent genetic events in cancers, and yet mutant KRAS has long been considered an intractable drug target. However, working with Roger and his team, we believe we have an opportunity to attack this elusive target from a different angle with the potential to deliver an exciting new anti-cancer therapeutic."

Meanwhile, Evotec is looking forward to a big year as it prepares to sign an expansive deal with Sanofi ($SNY) in which the drugmaker will invest at least €250 million ($310 million) over 5 years in Evotec, handing over a French research site and forging deep R&D ties with the company.

The company, which makes its money sharing the risks and rewards of research with its partners, just pocketed €8 million ($10 million) from its ongoing R&D collaborations with Bayer and Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ), and it's forecasting growth for 2015.

Evotec splits its business into two halves: EVT Execute, which operates like a CRO, and EVT Innovate, which outlicenses internally developed candidates. The former half largely pays the bills, thanks to risk-sharing deals with the likes of Boehringer Ingelheim and Roche ($RHHBY), but Evotec has taken strides to build up its internal efforts through acquisitions and licensing agreements.

- read the statement

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