Newswise — SEATTLE– [July 3 2013] – Blaze Bioscience, Inc., a privately held biotechnology company developing Tumor PaintTM technology, and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, one of the nation’s top cancer research and prevention centers and pioneer of bone marrow and stem cell transplantation, announced today a collaboration and option agreement to support the Hutchinson Center’s Optides Discovery Program and advance drug candidates identified using the platform.
Optides, short for “optimized peptides,” are tiny molecules derived from natural organisms such as scorpions, violets and sunflowers. Optides can be instructed to bind to particular kinds of cancer cells, disabling only those cells. They also can be attached to chemotherapy drugs, transforming them into precision therapies that spare healthy cells.
Under the terms of the agreement, Blaze will provide development and commercialization guidance, as well as access to Blaze technology, for optide drug candidates during the discovery phase at the Hutchinson Center. Blaze has the option to exclusively license commercial rights to optide drug candidates that achieve certain criteria. In addition to technology access and support, the Hutchinson Center has received an additional equity stake in Blaze and will receive further payments on each product candidate optioned by Blaze. Any optide candidates not optioned by Blaze will belong fully to the Hutchinson Center including any intellectual property developed or provided by Blaze in the discovery phase for that optide candidate.
Blaze’s first development candidate, BLZ-100, is based on the first optide discovered by the Hutchinson Center. BLZ-100 is a variant of a peptide called chlorotoxin, which was originally derived from scorpion venom. This optide forms the backbone of the Tumor Paint technology previously licensed by Blaze.
“Collaborating on the Optides Program with the Hutchinson Center is a natural extension of our pipeline and utilizes our combined expertise,” said Heather Franklin, co-founder, president and chief executive officer of Blaze. “Our Tumor Paint technology program has maintained its aggressive schedule to advance BLZ-100 from license to clinic in just two years. Helping the Hutchinson Center quickly advance additional optide product candidates with efficient technology transfer followed by rapid entry into the clinic benefit both the Hutchinson Center and Blaze, but more importantly, may ultimately benefit patients.”
“We are pleased to establish this collaboration with Blaze. It is structured to efficiently match the Hutchinson Center’s superb discovery science with Blaze’s industry expertise in drug selection and peptide drug development in efforts to speed the transfer of Hutchinson Center optides discoveries to the clinic,” said Ulrich Mueller, vice president of Industry Relations and Clinical Research Support at the Hutchinson Center. “This will further the Hutchinson Center’s overarching mission to eliminate cancer and related diseases as causes of human suffering and death.”
• The Hutchinson Center is a pioneer in the development of optides, a new class of drug candidates based on knottins – small, tough peptides produced in nature by plants and animals.
• The optides team at the Hutchinson Center has accelerated the drug discovery process by pioneering new methods to rapidly create new optides. This is conducted with a focus on identification of optides for treatment of cancers, including some of the most treatment-resistant malignancies: brain cancer, and tumors of the head, neck and throat.
• The Optides Program has developed a fast-track approach to rapidly “evolve” and test new optides for optimal drug properties.
About Blaze Bioscience, the Tumor Paint Company:
Blaze Bioscience, Inc. is a Seattle-based, privately-held biotechnology company dedicated to developing products that assist surgeons in their quest to improve the lives of cancer patients. The company was founded in 2010 to develop and commercialize the Tumor PaintTM technology. Tumor Paint technology is designed to provide real-time, high-resolution intraoperative visualization of cancer cells, enabling better detection and more complete and precise surgical resection of cancer. The first Tumor Paint product candidate, BLZ-100 which is a combination of an optide and a near-infrared beacon, is under development for multiple solid tumors. For additional information, please visit www.blazebioscience.com.
About Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center:
At Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, home to three Nobel laureates, interdisciplinary teams of world-renowned scientists seek new and innovative ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer, HIV/AIDS and other life-threatening diseases. Fred Hutch’s pioneering work in bone marrow transplantation led to the development of immunotherapy, which harnesses the power of the immune system to treat cancer with minimal side effects. An independent, nonprofit research institute based in Seattle, Fred Hutch houses the nation’s first and largest cancer prevention research program, as well as the clinical coordinating center of the Women’s Health Initiative and the international headquarters of the HIV Vaccine Trials Network. Private contributions are essential for enabling Fred Hutch scientists to explore novel research opportunities that lead to important medical breakthroughs. For more information visit www.fredhutch.org or follow Fred Hutch on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.