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CIMA signs a licensing agreement to advance against cancer

This will enable the development of molecules that activate the immune system to fight tumors through a novel mechanism

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Center for Applied Medical Research (CIMA) and the pharmaceutical company F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd. signs a agreement against cancer. FOTO: Manuel Castells
10/05/18 10:50 María Pilar Huarte

The Center for Applied Medical Research (CIMA) of the University of Navarra (Spain) and the Swiss pharmaceutical company F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd. have signed a licensing and research collaboration agreement for the development of molecules which may lead to potential new selective treatments for cancer.

Today, utilising and activating the patient’s immune system is a new way of fighting cancer. “Drugs which facilitate the patient’s own immune system to block the progress of a malignant tumor have been shown to be efficacious therapeutic tools. One of the strategies to strengthen the immune response to cancer is to inhibit a subtype of cells, the regulatory T lymphocytes, which infiltrate tumors and prevent our own immune system from fighting cancer. The immunosuppressive function of these cells is regulated by the action of a key protein whose inhibition could have therapeutic effects”, explained Dr. Juan José Lasarte, director of the CIMA Immunology and Immunotherapy Program. Immunotherapy is, in principle, a valid strategy for multiple types of cancer, since it is based on the estimulation and strenghtening of the patient’s own immune response.

“By taking this approach into account, we have developed at CIMA the first molecules which can penetrate the regulatory T cells and bind the target protein to inhibit its function, consequently resulting in the activation of the immune system against the tumor. This project is the result of a multi-disciplinary collaboration between the Immunology and Immunotherapy Program and the Molecular Therapeutics Program”, said Dr. Julen Oyarzabal, director of the Molecular Therapeutics Program at CIMA. 

Collaboration between research center and industry

The partnership between CIMA and Roche includes an agreement for joint research and the licensing to Roche of CIMA’s molecules for development and worldwide commercialization. CIMA is eligible to receive development milestones for up to four indications per product reaching the market, plus tiered sales royalties. As stated by Dr. Jesús M. Hernández, University of Navarra consultant on biomedical transfer and innovation, “This is one of the most important licensing agreements in Spain between a research center and biopharmaceutical company”.

Moreover, Dr. María Pilar Civeira, General Manager of CIMA, commented that, “Apart from substantiating the relevance of our research, this agreement is another example of the efforts made by CIMA to collaborate with industry to move our research beyond the doors of the lab, aiming for potential therapeutic solutions for patients all over the world”.

Regarding CIMA

CIMA is a university research institute of the University of Navarra, based in Pamplona, Spain. Its mission is to carry out translational research of excellence, based on novel biological knowledge and oriented to finding therapeutic solutions for patients’ needs.

The vision of CIMA is to be an international center of reference for biomedical research, acknowledged for the relevance of its scientific research and their application to improve society’s well-being.

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