SAN DIEGO, Jan. 09, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — eFFECTOR Therapeutics, Inc., a leader in the development of selective translation regulators (STRs) for the treatment of cancer, and Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) today announced an exclusive worldwide license and collaboration agreement to develop small-molecule inhibitors of eukaryotic initiation factor 4E (eIF4E), a key oncogenic driver located downstream from both the RAS and PI3K signaling pathways. eIF4E is an effector protein that is activated in a variety of human cancers and is linked to poor prognosis and resistance to certain therapies.
Under terms of the agreement, eFFECTOR will receive a $15 million payment upfront, and will be eligible for additional potential $492M in R&D funding, development and sales milestone payments. eFFECTOR will receive royalties on sales of any products that may result from this collaboration if the program reaches commercialization and has an option to enter into a co-promotion and profit and loss share arrangement in the United States.
“This collaboration underscores the importance of the emerging field of translation regulation as an exciting new therapeutic approach,” said Steve Worland, Ph.D., president and chief executive officer of eFFECTOR. “It will leverage our collective development capabilities and Pfizer’s global commercial resources to build momentum around eIF4E inhibitor development and maximize the potential impact for cancer patients. Importantly, we believe that this agreement validates eFFECTOR’s pursuit of eIF4E, which has been a protein of interest for drug development for many years but has been very challenging to develop small molecules to target due to the nature of its binding site.”
“We look forward to working with eFFECTOR with the goal of bringing a promising new therapy to patients with various treatment-refractory cancers,” said Jeff Settleman, Ph.D., senior vice president and chief scientific officer, oncology, worldwide research, development & medical, Pfizer.
The Role of eIF4E in Cancer
eIF4E (eukaryotic initiation factor 4E) is a highly oncogenic and historically intractable target that is activated in a variety of human cancers and is linked to poor prognosis and resistance to certain therapies. eIF4E is an effector protein integrating signals from multiple important oncogenes and tumor suppressor proteins in the PI3K and RAS oncogenic pathways (including PI3K, AKT, mTOR, PTEN and BRAF), and selectively regulates the translation of a set of target mRNA distinct from those regulated by MNK1/2 and eIF4A. This may expand the potential patient population that may benefit from translation regulation therapy.
About eFFECTOR Therapeutics
eFFECTOR Therapeutics is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company at the forefront of an emerging class of therapeutics known as selective translation regulators or STRs. By acting on key biological mechanisms responsible for tumor growth and immune suppression, STRs represent a promising small molecule approach for treating cancer. eFFECTOR’s most advanced program, tomivosertib (eFT508), is currently in Phase 2 clinical trials for the treatment of several types of cancer. eFFECTOR has entered into clinical collaboration agreements with a strategic alliance between Pfizer and Merck KGaA to study tomivosertib in combination with avelumab and separately with Merck & Co to evaluate tomivosertib in combination with KEYTRUDA. Additionally, the company has an emerging pipeline of promising STR programs targeting well-known oncogenes and intractable targets. For more information visit www.effector.com.