Newswise — The Johns Hopkins University and Eisai Inc., the U.S. pharmaceutical subsidiary of Tokyo, Japan-based Eisai Co., Ltd., announced today that they have extended their drug discovery collaboration through an exclusive licensing agreement. The agreement is based upon compounds identified from collaborative research between Eisai’s Andover innovative Medicines (AiM) Institute in Andover, Mass., and the Johns Hopkins Drug Discovery Program, which was designed to translate new target discoveries into novel small molecule compounds for the development of neurology and oncology medicines.

“Our initial goal of working with Eisai to identify compounds acting at specific targets and advance the chemistry towards potential clinical candidates has been a success,” said Barbara Slusher, Ph.D., MAS, professor of neurology, neuroscience, psychiatry, medicine and oncology at Johns Hopkins and the director of Johns Hopkins Drug Discovery. “We are excited to announce the first out-licensing of a project that holds significant promise and potential to advance the treatment of patients with cancer.”

Eisai has licensed the intellectual property for further research, development and commercialization at its AiM Institute. Under the agreement, Johns Hopkins will receive an upfront payment of $500,000 for license consideration, as well as future milestones and royalties upon successful commercialization of a product based on these compounds. In recognition of the ongoing success of the collaboration, a further $500,000 will be provided by Eisai to support future Johns Hopkins Drug Discovery research.

“We are excited to continue our work with Professor Slusher and her drug discovery team at Johns Hopkins,” said Takashi Owa, Ph.D., chief clinical officer and chief medical officer of Eisai’s Oncology Business Group. “This collaboration continues to build momentum, and we ultimately hope to move it forward so it has a real benefit for cancer patients.”

In 2011, Johns Hopkins and Eisai formalized the initial joint drug discovery collaboration. Under the terms of that agreement, Johns Hopkins Drug Discovery, led by Slusher, provided Eisai with novel therapeutic targets. For the targets of interest, screening assays were developed and validated by the Johns Hopkins Drug Discovery team, and then transferred to Eisai, which utilized the Johns Hopkins assay to conduct high-throughput screening of its proprietary compound library collection to identify compounds that interact with the targets. Utilizing hybrid industry-academic drug discovery teams, the newly identified screening compounds were then subject to extensive structure-activity relationship studies and characterization in preclinical models to identify lead compounds for potential clinical development.

“This agreement continues the longstanding relationship between Eisai and Johns Hopkins to develop technologies that can advance human health,” said Neil Veloso, executive director of Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures. “Successful collaborations like this reflect well on Johns Hopkins as the research partner of choice.”

The Johns Hopkins Drug Discovery Program consists of a multidisciplinary team of scientists with industrial experience and core expertise in drug discovery research, including medicinal chemistry, screening assay development, drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics and animal pharmacology/toxicology.