Sprint Bioscience in billion-kronor deal to develop new cancer drug

Sprint Bioscience has licensed its VADA cancer programme to US-based Day One Biopharmaceuticals. The deal is Sprint Bioscience’s largest to date and could be worth around SEK 3.4 billion. In the next two years, the two companies will take the steps towards clinical testing of a new cancer drug.

“This is the biggest deal we’ve ever done; but like many others in our industry, it’s based on the long-term success of the project. The deal is a validation of our research and shows that others are willing to invest in the project,” says Martin Andersson, Research Director, Sprint Bioscience.

Sprint Bioscience develops small molecule drug candidates for the treatment of various forms of cancer. The VADA programme aims to block a particular target protein – VRK1 – which presents as glioblastoma cancer. The prognosis for malignant glioblastoma is currently extremely poor.

Previous studies have shown that when VRK1 is inhibited, it affects cancer cells’ ability to survive.
“We’ve also identified a biomarker, a related protein, which can be used to predict how well our treatment will work. One of the problems with cancer is that it’s such a heterogeneous disease with multiple underlying causes,” explains Andersson.

With the help of several biomarkers, it becomes easier to quickly identify which treatment is most beneficial for given cancer patients. The alternative is to test different available treatments, which leads to more side effects and more suffering.

“Today’s general cancer treatments often have a large number of side effects because they also affect healthy cells in the body. In the future, we want to avoid that by developing targeted therapies that only affect the specific cancer cells in patients.”

However, the rollout of a new cancer drug based on this research remains years off. In the next two years, the project will be further developed in Flemingsberg in preparation for clinical tests.
“There aren’t many places in the Stockholm area where it’s possible to conduct this sort of research. Flemingsberg offers access to the right kind of labs and premises and proximity to knowledge and expertise at Karolinska University Hospital and Karolinska Institutet,” says Andersson.

Read more about Sprint Bioscience here.

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