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Sonus, Bayer ink agreement to develop new class of tumor drugs


BOTHELL, Wash. A company in Washington State and a subsidiary of Bayer have signed an exclusive in-licensing agreement to develop cancer treatments, the Washington-based company announced Thursday.

Sonus Pharmaceuticals said that it will work with Bayer HealthCare to develop caspase activators, molecules that activate tumor cells’ capsase pathways, triggering programmed cell death. Many tumor cells lack the ability to undergo programmed cell death, also known as apoptosis.

Preclinical animal trials in which the drug is administered orally and intravenously have shown that the compound may be effective against tumors, including those resistant to taxane.

Under the agreement, Sonus has exclusive rights to develop two core compounds for use in humans, as well as rights to all other non-core compounds covered under the patents. Bayer retains rights to develop biological conjugates of the molecules, except for the two core compounds, and will not develop the non-core compounds for use in cancer patients.

Bayer will also receive an upfront licensing fee of $450,000, milestone payments and royalties on future sales. “Based on the current plans and resources, we would expect to move this compound into Phase 1 clinical development within 12-18 months,” stated Mike Martino, president and chief executive officer of Sonus.

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