Pair of grants for a protein program
DAIX, France—Biopharmaceutical company Inventiva got a financial boost as September ended, announcing that it had been awarded two grants totaling €2.3 million for its YAP/TEAD research program. The first grant was from the European EUROSTARS program, a joint program between EUREKA and the European Commission that supports international innovative R&D projects led by small and medium-sized enterprises, and totaled €1.5 million. The second grant, from the Agence Nationale de Recherche (ANR), the French national research agency, was worth €800,000. The two grants will fund further development of Inventiva’s YAP/TEAD protein research program through the TheraYAP and Hippocure drug development consortiums, respectively.
Of those two initiatives, the 33-month TheraYAP consortium is focused on developing a drug candidate and companion biomarkers for malignant mesothelioma cancer and other severe forms of lung and breast cancers. This consortium also includes Xen Tech, a global specialist in human tumor xenografts, and Atrys Health, a prominent player in personalized oncology. The Hippocure consortium will run 30 months, with a goal of identifying synergies between molecules patented by Inventiva and lung cancer and malignant mesothelioma current treatments in order to develop combination therapies. This consortium also includes the Institut Curie. (This isn’t Inventiva’s first time working with Institute Curie, either; the organizations launched the Epicure project together in September 2014, with financial support from ANR for four years.)
“The grants awarded by EUROSTARS and the ANR underscore the significant potential of our technology, as well as the scientific community’s interest in our innovative approach targeting the YAP/TEAD transcription factors. Working collaboratively with other industry leaders, we intend to accelerate the development of our YAP/TEAD program in order to provide new therapeutic solutions to the thousands of patients with malignant mesothelioma cancer and other severe forms of cancer,” said Pierre Broqua, co-founder and chief scientific officer of Inventiva.
The focus of the YAP/TEAD program is to interrupt interactions between the YAP and TEAD proteins. YAP (yes-associated protein) and TEAD (TEA domain) interact in the nucleus of a cell and regulate the genes that control cellular proliferation and apoptosis. This program is based on Inventiva molecules that have shown substantial anti-proliferative activity in various cancer cells and could have therapeutic potential for the treatment of malignant mesothelioma cancer and severe forms of lung, colon, ovarian and gastric cancer. Inventiva notes on its website that “YAP-TEAD inhibitors represent a promising and innovative therapeutic strategy to address unmet medical needs,” including “enhancing efficacy and survival for patients with a broad range of BRAF-, STK11- and RAS-mutant tumors.”
“While fibrosis is our primary therapeutic focus, with the clinical development of our IVA 337 drug candidate in NASH1 and systemic scleroderma, the progress in the YAP/TEAD program is a testament to our technology’s potential in other large therapeutic areas, such as oncology,” Frédéric Cren, co-founder and CEO of Inventiva, commented in a press release. “YAP/TEAD is a target of considerable interest for numerous cancers, and we are confident that our collaborations within the TheraYAP and Hippocure consortiums will accelerate the discovery and development of efficient YAP/TEAD inhibitors.”
As Cren mentioned, Inventiva is hard at work with partnerships in its main areas of fibrosis. The company announced at the end of May this year that it had begun a multiyear research and drug discovery collaboration and licensing agreement with industry giant Boehringer Ingelheim. Per the terms of the agreement, the companies’ research teams will jointly validate a new therapeutic approach in hopes of discovering new medicines for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Though full financial details weren’t disclosed, Inventiva stands to receive an upfront payment and is also eligible to receive research funding, potential research, development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments of up to €170 million. The company will also receive royalties on net sales of any products resulting from this collaboration.