SAN FRANCISCO, April 24, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Ascentage Pharma, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on apoptosis-targeted oncology drug discovery and development, and UNITY Biotechnology, a San Francisco-based biopharmaceutical company focused on the development of medicines to improve healthspan, announced a worldwide collaboration to develop senolytic treatments for age-related disease.
The Ascentage team has been working for over a decade to create small-molecule drugs targeting programmed cell death and has established a best-in-class compound library and clinical-stage lead compounds for oncology therapeutics.
UNITY Biotechnology, backed by ARCH Venture Partners, Venrock and Wuxi Healthcare Ventures, has been working for four years to elucidate the link between senescence and aging and has demonstrated in animal models that clearing senescent cells reverses or prevents many age-related pathologies, including osteoarthritis, atherosclerosis, glaucoma, and kidney disease.
"At UNITY, we have demonstrated that senescence is a key mechanism in aging and age-related disease," said Dr. Nathaniel David, founder and CEO of UNITY Biotechnology. "We have evaluated a wide panel of drug candidates that clear senescent cells, and Ascentage's compounds are some of the best we've seen. Access to their compound library through this collaboration will significantly accelerate our efforts to develop drugs to improve healthspan by halting or reversing several age-related diseases."
The Ascentage R&D team has a proven track record in structure-based drug design and lead optimization of small-molecule drug candidates targeting protein-protein interactions. "We chose Ascentage as our partner in this exciting anti-aging field not only because of its cutting-edge technology, but also because this partnership will allow us to reach a global market," David said. As part of the deal, the companies will also form a joint venture for the development and commercialization of senolytic drugs in China.
Though specific terms are undisclosed, Ascentage will acquire an equity interest in UNITY, and UNITY will make an investment in Ascentage. Robert Nelsen, the co-founder and managing director of ARCH Venture Partners and a UNITY board member, will join the Ascentage board as an observer.
"We have been tracking the science at Ascentage for some time and are incredibly pleased to enter this collaboration with them," Nelsen said. "We are confident that they will complement what we are doing at UNITY to drive major improvements in the treatment of diseases of aging to impact healthspan."
Mr. Eric Zhao, partner of Oriza Seed Capital and Board member of Ascentage, said, "It is great to see two true innovative companies work together. I am sure they will bring extra value to everyone."
Ascentage Chairman and CEO Dr. Dajun Yang added, "We are one of the leading biopharmaceutical companies with clinical stage compounds targeting key proteins that control programmed cell death pathways. We will continue our efforts to advance clinical stage compounds for targeted anti-cancer therapy and are very pleased to work with UNITY for several unmet medical indications outside of the oncology space, with each aging-related disease potentially representing a multi-billion-dollar market."
About Ascentage Pharma
Ascentage Pharma is a China-based, global-oriented, clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, dedicated to discovery and development of "first-in-class" and "best-in-class" targeted small-molecule cancer therapeutics. A rich portfolio of innovative small-molecule agents has been discovered and developed through the company's unique, robust, and world-class innovative drug development pipeline. Currently, Ascentage Pharma has four molecules in phase I-II trials in US, Australia and China, and another four molecules at IND reviewing or IND-enabling stages in US, Australia and China.
Ascentage Pharma focuses on clinically validated cancer targets. Its established R&D pipelines include: inhibitors to a number of key proteins, including IAP, Bcl-2/Bcl-xL and MDM2-p53, that restore a tumor cell's apoptotic program; 2nd and/or 3rd generation of kinase inhibitors that overcome mutant resistance in cancer therapy; and inhibitors to epigenetic targets with enormous potential in oncology therapy. For more information, please visit www.ascentagepharma.com.
About UNITY Biotechnology
UNITY Biotechnology is developing therapeutics that increase healthspan by preventing, halting or reversing diseases of aging. UNITY's initial focus is on creating senolytic medicines, which clear senescent cells that drive age-related afflictions such as osteoarthritis, atherosclerosis, eye diseases and kidney diseases. Backed by ARCH Venture Partners and Venrock, UNITY's world-class management team has experience building companies and developing medicines together and has collectively moved 91 therapeutic candidates into human clinical trials and developed 13 FDA-approved medicines. UNITY's mission is to build a future in which it doesn't hurt to be old — a future in which people stay healthy and mobile long into old age. More information is available at www.unitybiotechnology.com.
SOURCE UNITY Biotechnology