Research project aims to treat blood cancer using medicinal chemistry

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Two European companies have been awarded an €800K ($842K) grant from EUREKA Eurostars for their three-year EPIGENEXT joint project. The grant will fund a three-year EPIGENEXT joint project aimed at developing first-in-class therapy for diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. 

Lead Pharma, a Netherlands based pharmaceutical company that designs and develops therapies for the treatment of immune-mediated diseases and cancer, and Oxeltis, a French medicinal chemistry and custom synthesis company announced that they had been awarded the grant and would work in partnership to accelerate research into this aggressive form of cancer. 

Arthur Oubrie, CSO of Lead Pharma said: ‘We are delighted that our approach to combat DLBCL has been awarded a Eurostars grant. We look forward to joining forces with Oxeltis, who will bring extra power in organic and medicinal chemistry to the joint project team.’

The EPIGENEXT project is aimed at developing a first-in-class small molecule therapy for diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL). DLBCL is a blood cancer that develops from B-cells in the lymphatic system. It affects approximately 115,000 people per year worldwide, of which 50,000 are in Europe and the US¹,².

The first-line treatment for DLBCL is a regimen combining an antibody therapy with four chemotherapy drugs known as R-CHOP. Unfortunately, this does not cure 30-50% of DLBCL patients, who eventually relapse. The long-term prognosis for these patients is poor, with a one-year survival rate of less than 30%. In addition, chemotherapy drugs are non-selective, leading to debilitating, systemic side effects such as tiredness and anemia. Therefore, there is a high need for novel, effective therapies that improve survival and quality of life for DLBCL patients.

Stéphane Salamone, chemistry director at Oxeltis, said: ‘We are pleased to contribute to Lead Pharma’s innovation in drug discovery, the EPIGENEXT project perfectly matches Oxeltis’ capacity to be a medicinal chemistry partner and is aligned with the company’s strategy to invest in long-term partnerships.’

Eurostars is a European program that supports innovative SMEs and project partners (small and medium-sized companies, universities, research organisations and other types of organisations) by funding international collaborative R&D and innovation projects. Eurostars is run by EUREKA, an intergovernmental network, which involves 37 countries.

Credit: Gorodenkoff/Shutterstock

23 June 2022