Cullinan Oncology will develop and commercialize the product under a global license from Wistar Institute

The novel compound has resulted in tumor growth inhibition in pre-clinical cancer models

Reports confirm that Cullinan Oncology, LLC and The Wistar Institute have entered into an agreement for accelerating the development of a novel Epstein-Barr Nuclear Antigen 1 (EBNA1) inhibitor, VK-2019, which was discovered by The Wistar Institute.

Cullinan Apollo, a firm established and managed by Cullinan Oncology, would supposedly be developing VK-2019 and has been awarded an exclusive global license for the development as well as commercialization of the EBNA1 inhibitor under the agreement. Wistar has received an equity stake in Cullinan Apollo and an up-front license fee, with the potential for added royalty payments and downstream milestone payments as the product advances.

For the uninitiated, Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) is a well-know driver of different types of cancers and is vitally dependent on EBNA1 for viral genome maintenance. The new product inhibits EBNA1 function potently and resulted in the inhibition of tumor growth by eliminating EBV in pre-clinical EBV-associated cancer models.

CSO for Small Molecules at Cullinan Oncology, Leigh Zawel stated that the company will advance the first-in-class, novel asset into the clinic over the next few weeks. Scientists at Wistar have developed this molecule with almost a decade of efforts and have confidence in Cullinan’s ability to develop the EBNA1 inhibitor successfully, Zawel mentioned.

Apparently, the novel compound was developed largely with the support of an US$10 million investment from a biomedical research charity, Wellcome, which is based out of the U.K. A financially and politically independent foundation, Wellcome is aimed at improving health by supporting the growth of remarkable ideas.

The Wistar Institute, for the record, is a global leader in biomedical research having special expertise in cancer research and development of vaccines. It was established in 1892 as the first independent and non-profit biomedical research institute in the U.S. and is currently active in working to ensure that research is advanced rapidly from laboratory stage to the clinic.