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Varsity Pharmaceuticals Licenses Pol-Theta Inhibitor From Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

NEW YORK – Varsity Pharmaceuticals said on Monday that it has licensed the DNA polymerase theta (pol-theta) inhibitor novobiocin from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and will begin evaluating the agent in homologous recombination (HR)-deficient cancers this year.

In the deal, the Cambridge, UK-based firm garnered exclusive rights to novobiocin, which is designed to block the pol-theta enzyme from repairing double-strand DNA breaks in cancers harboring mutations in DNA repair genes such as BRCA1 and BRCA2. Varsity believes the pol-theta inhibitor could be used to treat HR-deficient ovarian, breast, pancreatic, and prostate cancers, among others, including tumors that have become resistant to PARP inhibitors.

Novobiocin was previously used as an antibiotic. Now, recent research led by Alan D'Andrea, Dana-Farber's director of the Center for DNA Damage Repair, has shown that the agent could be used alone or with PARP inhibitors to treat HR-deficient cancers as well.

The licensing deal is part of Varsity's ongoing strategy of partnering with academic researchers to identify new targets and develop new small molecule therapies to overcome drug resistance. Varsity and Dana-Farber didn't disclose the financial terms of their deal.