• Curve’s innovative mammalian cell drug discovery platform to enable identification and optimisation of novel small molecule drug candidates against MSD targets
  • Potentially game-changing platform enables direct discovery of functionally active molecules against difficult to drug targets expressed in their native intracellular environment

SOUTHAMPTON, UK I February 16, 2022 I Curve Therapeutics (Curve), a private biotechnology company pioneering a potentially game-changing, functional drug discovery platform, today announces a global research collaboration with MSD, the trade name of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, NJ USA, to discover and validate modulators of up to five therapeutic targets using its Microcycle® technology, initially for oncology and neurology indications.

Under the terms of the agreement Curve will receive an upfront payment, and will be eligible to receive research, development and commercial milestones totalling up to US$ 1.7B should all five therapeutic programs succeed. Curve will also receive a royalty on net sales of any approved products resulting from the alliance.

Under the agreement, Curve will perform high throughput mammalian cell-based functional screening, hit characterisation, data-mining and analysis, and Microcycle® optimisation. MSD will be responsible for lead optimisation, clinical development, manufacturing and commercialisation of compounds identified through the collaboration.

Simon Kerry, PhD, MBA, Chief Executive Officer of Curve, said: This collaboration is a major milestone for Curve and an important endorsement of our ground-breaking drug discovery platform. Working with MSD on selected therapeutic targets will complement Curve’s in-house drug discovery and development programmes.”

Curve’s novel, proprietary platform enables the direct discovery of biologically active molecules against targets that have been difficult to address using conventional drug discovery methods. The platform allows rapid enrichment of highly diverse Microcycle® libraries in the cytoplasm of mammalian cells to identify library members that have a desired biological activity against a therapeutic target. Importantly, the compact size of Microcycles enables their transformation to non-peptidic small molecules for lead optimisation and development: an unparalleled advantage compared to other cyclic peptides.

Prof. Ali Tavassoli, Chief Scientific Officer of Curve, said: “Screening a genetically encoded Microcycle® library against proteins in their native intracellular state is unique in drug discovery and Curve’s platform creates an unprecedented opportunity to discover functional hits that are readily converted to small-molecule leads against the most challenging targets in drug discovery.

Rob Garbaccio PhD., Vice President Discovery Chemistry MSD Research Laboratories said: At MSD we are committed to bringing forward medicines for many of the world’s most challenging diseases. We look forward to collaborating with the scientists at Curve to evaluate new ways to treat complex diseases.”

Curve originated from world-leading Microcycle® research conducted by Professor Tavassoli’s group in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Southampton, UK. The company was established in 2019 by founding investor Advent Life Sciences and subsequently joined by co-lead Epidarex Capital.

SOURCE: Curve Therapeutics