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FORMA Therapeutics Acquires Covalent Chemistry Platform from Netherlands Cancer Institute

Companies mentioned in this article: FORMA Therapeutics

WATERTOWN, Mass. & AMSTERDAM -- (BUSINESS WIRE) -- FORMA Therapeutics and The Netherlands Cancer Institute (NKI) announced today a collaborative initiative and exclusive license agreement in which FORMA has acquired a unique covalent chemistry platform developed by Huib Ovaa, Ph.D., Principal Investigator, Chemical Biology Laboratories at NKI and a member of FORMA’s deubiquitinase (DUB) investigator network. Under this collaborative initiative, FORMA and Dr. Ovaa will advance the research, discovery and clinical application of highly-selective, irreversible therapeutics. This represents a distinct and additional agreement between FORMA Therapeutics and Dr. Ovaa, with the first agreement announced in the area of DUBs on July 9, 2013.

“FORMA is extremely excited about exploring the therapeutic potential of covalent drug binders with Dr. Huib Ovaa’s discovery laboratory. The unique reactivity profile of the propargyl moiety will be examined across a broad variety of cysteine-containing proteins, initially to understand the distinctly different microenvironments of proteins and their potential utility in creating breakthrough drugs,” stated Kenneth W. Bair, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer and Head of Research and Development, FORMA Therapeutics. “Dr. Ovaa’s laboratory has solved a number of challenging problems at the interface between chemistry, biology and medicine, and we look forward to a productive partnership to create next-generation covalent inhibitors.”

Cysteine residues play an important role the catalytic action of many enzymes. Such enzymes implicated in a broad range of diseases include various families of proteases such as cathepsins, caspases and deubiquitinating enzymes, but also many phosphatases.

Huib Ovaa, Ph.D., Principal Investigator, Chemical Biology Laboratories at NKI noted, “We are quite pleased to enter this additional partnership with FORMA Therapeutics given their unique drug discovery platform focused on target protein families and their demonstrated commitment to further advance the potential of this chemistry platform for cysteine-containing proteins.”

“We are privileged to be broad strategic partners with Dr. Ovaa, a world-renowned chemist, who has received the Amsterdam Innovator Award and the KNCV Gold Medal, conferred to the most successful Dutch chemist under 40 by the Royal Dutch Chemical Society as their highest honor,” stated Steven Tregay, Ph.D., President and CEO, FORMA Therapeutics. “We believe the combination of our R&D platform, which delivers ultra-selective therapeutics within a protein family, along with Dr. Ovaa’s technology, will allow FORMA to advance first-in-class covalent inhibitors as a therapeutic strategy to inhibit targets responsible for the pathophysiology of disease.”

About FORMA Therapeutics

FORMA Therapeutics' scientists are passionate about discovering and developing medicines that will make a difference in oncology and other genetically driven therapeutic areas. The Company's drug discovery engine drives screening and structure-based approaches across broad families of targets involved in tumor metabolism, epigenetics, protein homeostasis and protein-protein interactions. Deep biological insight across targets is combined with the Company's chemistry expertise and integrated with a world class network of academic investigators, clinical experts and corporate partners to rapidly direct the creation of high quality, innovative drug candidates.

FORMA is headquartered in Watertown, MA near the epicenter of the Cambridge Life Sciences cluster, with additional chemistry operations in Branford, CT.

About Netherlands Cancer Institute

The Netherlands Cancer Institute was established over a hundred years ago on October 10, 1913. The founders, Rotgans, professor of Surgery, De Bussy, publisher, and De Vries, professor of Pathology, wanted to create a cancer institute 'where patients suffering from malignant growths could be treated adequately and where cancer and related diseases could be studied'. They bought a house on one of the canals in Amsterdam and named it the 'Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Huis', after the famous Dutch microscopist. The clinic had room for 17 patients, while the laboratory could accommodate 8 to 10 scientists.

Nowadays, The Netherlands Cancer Institute accommodates approximately 650 scientists and scientific support personnel. The NKI has been accredited the status of Comprehensive Cancer Center by the OECI and holds a position at the international forefront of cancer research. The Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Hospital has 53 medical specialists, 180 beds, an out-patients clinic that receives over 30,000 patients each year, 5 operating theaters and 9 irradiation units. It is the only dedicated cancer center in The Netherlands and maintains an important role as a national and international center of scientific and clinical expertise, development and training.

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