Galapagos Expands Fibrosis Program with Evotec Partnership

Alice Melão, MSc avatar

by Alice Melão, MSc |

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Evotec and Galapagos will work together to develop a strategy to target fibrosis affecting several organs, the companies announced.

The collaboration will focus on the development of small molecules designed to specifically target a new fibrosis biomarker identified and validated with Evotec’s proprietary platforms for fibrotic diseases and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).

The small molecule modulators against the fibrosis target are being evaluated in preclinical studies.

“We are delighted to be working with Galapagos on this innovative project in an area of high unmet medical need,” Cord Dohrmann, PhD, chief scientific officer of Evotec, said in a press release. “The team at Galapagos share our focus on novel, first-in-class therapeutic candidates and we are glad to be part of their portfolio building.”

Evotec has built a high-throughput screening system using inducible pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) to identify and test new therapeutic agents. The company’s discovery platforms use more than 200 patient-derived iPSC lines. Applying differentiation protocols broadly applicable to these cell lines, researchers can identify new disease-related targets and conduct large-scale screening to find effective modulators.

Evotec’s screening platforms were developed based on a research collaboration and license agreement with Harvard University, involving leading researchers at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute.

“The collaboration with Evotec … underlines our commitment to expanding our fibrosis franchise,” said Piet Wigerinck, PhD, chief scientific officer of Galapagos. “We highly regard the scientific know-how of Evotec, and are hence very much looking forward to collaborating with the team.”

Under terms of the agreement, Galapagos will gain global commercialization rights over the fibrosis-targeting new small molecules. The company will be responsible for all further development of the program, and have access to Evotec’s specific screening protocols to complete the new agents’ preclinical development. In turn, Evotec will receive an undisclosed upfront payment, and is eligible for potential milestone and royalty payments.

This partnership follows the announcement of another Galapagos partnership with Fibrocor Therapeutics in January 2019.

The agreement with Fibrocor will allow Galapagos to expand its fibrosis program, with the inclusion of a small molecule inhibitor program for the treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and other indications.