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Quantro Therapeutics cashes in milestone payment from Boehringer Ingelheim

Viennese biotech QUANTRO Therapeutics identifies small molecule targeting an onkogenic transcription factor in Boehringer Ingelheim collab.

 Austrian QUANTRO Therapeutics GmbH has reached a key milestone in its three year R&D and licence option collaboration with Boehringer Ingelheim inked in 2022. According to the 2019 IMBA/IMP spin-out specialised in cell-based target discovery by time resolved RNA sequencing (SLAM sequencing), QUANTRO met all pre-set goals for technical proof-of-concept, cross-validation of HTS screening technology and identification of high-quality hits for a previously undruggable oncogenic transcription factor. The licence option contract with the pharma major foresees licence optios for up to three drug candidates targeting specific oncogenic transcription factors.According to Prof. Norbert Kraut, Global Head of Boehringer Ingelheim’s cancer department, finding small molecules that specifically block oncogenic transcription factors is a challenging task, because they often lack enzymatic activity and ‘ligandable’ pockets. In two seed financing rounds in 2020 and 2023 Boehringer Ingelheim’s venture fund  and Hamburg-headquartered drug discovery CRO Evotec AG invested €11m to evaluate the technology of QUANTRO, which was founded by Dr Stefan Ameres and Dr Johannes Zuber.The company has developed a drug discovery platform that makes use of cell-based assays that measure the 4-thiouridine (s4U) incorporation into RNA species at single-nucleotide resolution, thus opening access to RNA-polymerase-II-dependent gene expression dynamics in the context of total RNA, and the effect of small molecule drugs on this oncogenic expression dynamics.Michael Bauer, CEO of QUANTRO, commented: “We are committed to drive a positive change for people affected by cancer, and to that end are looking forward to developing new mode of action compounds jointly with Boehringer Ingelheim. In reaching this milestone, QUANTRO Therapeutics continues to advance its […] transcriptomic R&D platform to build a […] pipeline of modulators, inhibitors or degraders of transcription factors, transcriptional regulators and cell signaling targets.“Kraut added: “We are excited and encouraged to see a very convincing and robust technology proof of concept, and highly attractive hits from the first screening that we can directly take to the next discovery and development stages. We look forward to further expanding our pipeline of first-in-class treatments to address the remaining high unmet patient need in cancer in partnership with QUANTRO.”Upon the R&D success, QUANTRO received a milestone payment. As the financial details of the collaboration agreement were not discosed, experts can only estimate the transaction value. The total potential transaction value may exceed €500m in R&D funding and potential milestones.