The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and Blueprint Medicines Corporation today announced a three-year strategic research collaboration focused on accelerating development of BLU-222, an investigational precision therapy designed to target cyclin-dependent kinase 2 (CDK2).
The collaboration brings together MD Anderson translational research scientists, the drug development capabilities of MD Anderson’s Therapeutics Discovery division and Blueprint Medicines’ precision therapy pipeline and expertise. The teams seek to characterize the range of cancer types susceptible to treatment with a selective CDK2 inhibitor, advance BLU-222 mono- and combination-therapy strategies with the potential to maximize patient benefit, and identify novel biomarkers that may better predict treatment response and optimize patient selection.
“This collaboration highlights our commitment to rapidly advance innovative science and builds on our prior efforts – also supported by MD Anderson investigators – that led to two FDA-approved and breakthrough therapy-designated precision therapies for patients with cancer,” said Fouad Namouni, M.D., President of Research and Development at Blueprint Medicines. “By leveraging the power of MD Anderson’s expertise in translational research, we aim to reveal the broad potential of BLU-222 and optimize our clinical development strategy to bring treatment innovation to as many patients as possible.”
Under the preclinical collaboration agreement, Blueprint Medicines expects to collaborate primarily with MD Anderson’s Translational Research to Advance Therapeutics and Innovation in Oncology (TRACTION) platform, which leads cutting-edge translational biology research to rapidly position new therapies for clinical trials. TRACTION is a core component of MD Anderson’s Therapeutics Discovery division, an integrated team of clinicians, researchers and drug development experts working to advance impactful therapies that address patient needs.
MD Anderson and Blueprint Medicines will jointly design translational studies, and Blueprint Medicines will provide funding, research compounds and additional support. As part of the agreement, MD Anderson is eligible to receive certain payments based on the future development of BLU-222.
“As a critical regulator of the cell cycle, CDK2 is an exciting therapeutic target in oncology with broad potential across multiple patient populations and treatment settings,” said Timothy Heffernan, Ph.D., executive director of TRACTION and head of oncology research in MD Anderson’s Therapeutics Discovery division. “Through our collaboration with Blueprint Medicines, we aim to improve the scientific understanding of the role of CDK2 inhibition in cancer treatment and advance a new therapeutic option for patients with difficult-to-treat tumors, which further demonstrates our commitment to work at the forefront of cancer research.”
Cyclin-dependent kinases and their cyclin partners regulate the cell cycle, which is the process of cell growth and division. In certain cancers, aberrant cyclin E (CCNE) hyperactivates CDK2, resulting in cell cycle dysregulation and tumor proliferation. Aberrant CCNE has been observed as a primary driver of disease in subsets of patients across a wide range of tumor types and has been shown to promote resistance to CDK4/6 inhibitors and other therapies. BLU-222 is a potential best-in-class CDK2 inhibitor that has shown robust anti-tumor activity in preclinical models of CCNE-aberrant ovarian, breast and gastric cancer. Blueprint Medicines plans to initiate a first-in-human Phase 1 clinical trial of BLU-222 in patients with CCNE-aberrant cancers in the first half of 2022.
MD Anderson’s relationship with Blueprint Medicines creates a financial conflict of interest, and therefore MD Anderson is implementing an Institutional Conflict of Interest Management and Monitoring Plan for this research.