2021-08-05| China

Zai Lab, Schrödinger Collaborate to Advance Cancer Program

by Kathy Huang
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The process of drug discovery has been lengthy and costly, and many pharma companies are introducing computational tools to accelerate the process. The powerful solution has caught the attention of China’s pharma giant Zai Lab.

On August 4th, Zai Lab announced a collaboration with the New York-based software company Schrödinger to work on an oncology program targeting the DNA damage repair pathway. According to the deal, Zai Lab will pay an undisclosed upfront payment to Schrödinger, plus milestone payments up to $338 million.


Adding Computational Platform to Zai’s Oncology Pipelines

Equipped with the physics-based computational platform, Schrödinger enables rapid and high-quality drug discovery through integrating predictive modeling and data analysis.

Zai Lab will add Schrödinger’s platform to advance its eighteen ongoing oncology pipeline projects, including ovarian and gastric cancer treatment Niraparib (PARP). PARP is a family of proteins playing a key role in the DNA repair pathway, and PARP inhibitors are effective in treating tumors with defects in DNA repair.

 “This program will complement our existing discovery efforts in the DNA damage response pathway in addition to potential combinatorial approaches within our pipeline, such as with the PARP inhibitor Zejula,” said Alan Sandler, M.D., President and Head of Global Development, Oncology, Zai Lab.


Zai Lab’s Recent Oncology Business Deals

In June, Zai Lab signed a licensing deal with Mirati Therapeutics to develop adagrasib, a small molecule KRAS inhibitor in China.

In the same month, it inked a deal with MacroGenics to develop preclinical bispecific antibodies in oncology. Zai Lab paid MacroGenics $25 million upfront payments and up to $1.4 billion biobucks for the programs. This was the second collaboration between two companies since 2018.

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