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Mar 28, 2011
 |  BioCentury  |  Product Development

Buying proof of concept

Cephalon buys Gemin X after seeing undisclosed lung cancer data for obatoclax

The potent antagonism of obatoclax against MCL1 and a look at undisclosed survival data from a Phase IIb trial drove Cephalon Inc.'s decision to buy Gemin X Pharmaceuticals Inc. last week for $225 million and up to $300 million in milestones.

Obatoclax is a pan-inhibitor of anti-apoptotic proteins in the B cell lymphoma 2 (BCL2) family that initially is being developed to treat small cell lung cancer (SCLC).

The BCL2 family controls mitochondrial outer membrane permeability and helps regulate survival and death. Certain family members are overexpressed in cancer cells, and one in particular, mye-loid leukemia cell differentiation protein (MCL1), recently has emerged as a promising drug target.

Gemin X EVP and CMO Jean Viallet noted that a growing number of studies, including two published in Nature this month, have highlighted the critical role that MCL1 plays in killing cancer cells (see SciBX: Science-Business eXchange, March 17).

"The science has been evolving rapidly in terms of demonstrating the involvement of MCL1 in controlling both apoptotic as well as autophagic forms of cell death," Viallet said.

"The group that recently identified MCL1 in Nature as a key component of resistance to taxanes is one example, and a lot of evidence has been emerging in the literature to indicate how various tumor survival pathways are essentially geared up to maintain...

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