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Evotec signs contracts with Almirall and Sernova

Hamburg-based CRO Evotec SE has inked a drug development partnership with Spanish Almirall SA in dematology.

Under the alliance Evotec is set to discover novel targets or therapeutics for skin diseases such as atopic dermatitis or basal cell carcinoma. Almirall, which also brings in some unsdisclosed target structures, will take responsibility for clinical development and commercialisation. Financial terms were not disclosed. However, the Allmiral said it will pay  up to €230m per programme upon regulatory approval plus high single-digit percentages of net sales.

A few days earlier, Evotec had announced an R&D partnership in diabets with Canadian Sernova Corp. Its goal is to develop an implantable beta cell replacement therapy made from induced pluripotent stem cells (“iPSC”) to treat type 1 and 2 diabetes. Evotec has already established a quality-controlled, scalable bioreactor process to produce human beta cells in island-like clusters from  iPSCs. According to Evotec, these clusters are equivalent to primary human islet cells in their ability to normalise blood glucose levels in in vivo models over several months.

Sernova contributes its implantable medical device that enables vascularisation of the cell implant, ensuring long-term survival and optimal function of the implant in the patient. The combination of donor cell islets and the Cell Pouch has already achieved long-term therapeutic effects in participants in Sernova’s ongoing Phase I/II clinical trial in the US, according to the partners.

Under the terms of this agreement, Sernova has acquired an exclusive global licencing option for the use of Evotec’s iPSC-based beta cells. Preclinical work will be jointly conducted and funded. In conjunction with the agreement, Evotec made a strategic investment of €20m in Sernova.