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The University of Southampton

University spinout in major drug discovery collaboration

Published: 21 February 2022
Professor Ali Tavassoli's
Curve Therapeutics grew out of Professor Ali Tavassoli's group's world-leading research.

University of Southampton spinout Curve Therapeutics has signed a US$1.7 billion deal with multinational pharmaceutical company MSD, the trade name of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, NJ USA.

The deal will see the two companies collaborate on research using Curve Therapeutics’ pioneering and potentially game-changing drug discovery platform. The platform enables the direct discovery of functionally active molecules against difficult-to-drug targets – enabling new ways to treat complex diseases.

Under the collaboration with MSD, Curve Therapeutics’ technology will be used to discover and validate modulators of up to five therapeutic targets using its Microcycle technology, initially for oncology and neurology indications.

Simon Kerry, Chief Executive Officer of Curve, said: “This collaboration is a major milestone for Curve and an important endorsement of our ground-breaking drug discovery platform. Working with MSD on selected therapeutic targets will complement Curve’s in-house drug discovery and development programmes.”

Curve Therapeutics grew out of Professor Ali Tavassoli’s group’s world-leading research at the University.

Professor Tavassoli, Professor of Chemical Biology and Chief Scientific Officer at Curve, said: “Screening a genetically encoded Microcycle library against proteins in their native intracellular state is unique in drug discovery and Curve’s platform creates an unprecedented opportunity to discover functional hits that are readily converted to small-molecule leads against the most challenging targets in drug discovery.”

Under the agreement, Curve will receive an upfront payment, and will be eligible to receive research, development and commercial milestones totalling up to US$ 1.7 billion should all five therapeutic programs succeed. Curve will also receive a royalty on net sales of any approved products resulting from the alliance.

Curve Therapeutics was established in 2019 by founding investor Advent Life Sciences and subsequently joined by co-lead Epidarex Capital.

You can read more about Curve Therapeutics and Professor Tavassoli’s work in this interview .

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