Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center has partnered with Blaze Bioscience, Inc., a privately held biotechnology company, in collaboration and option agreement to support the Optides Discovery Program and advance drug candidates identified through the partnership. Through the agreement, Fred Hutch will gain access to development and commercialization guidance from Blaze, as well as access to Blaze technology, in development of optide drug candidates.
Fred Hutch has pioneered the development of optides, short for "optimized peptides," which are tiny molecules derived from natural organisms such as scorpions, violets and sunflowers. These can be instructed to bind to particular kinds of cancer cells, disabling only those cells. They can also be attached to chemotherapy drugs, transforming them into precision therapies that spare healthy cells.
In trade for their assistance, Blaze will receive the option to exclusively license commercial rights to candidates meeting certain criteria during the discovery phase. Fred Hutch has also received an additional equity stake in Blaze and will receive further payments on each product candidate Blaze options. Those drug candidates not optioned will belong fully to Fred Hutch, including intellectual property developed or provided by Blaze in the discovery phase.
The Optides Team at Fred Hutch has accelerated the drug discovery process by innovating new methods to rapidly create optides with a focus on identification for treatment of cancers, including some of the most treatment-resistant malignancies: brain cancer and tumors of the head, neck and throat.
The first optide discovered by Fred Hutch is a variant of a peptide called chlorotoxin, originally derived from scorpion venom, which forms the backbone of Tumor Paint™ technology, previously licensed by Blaze. Tumor Paint is designed to provide real-time, high-resolution intraoperative visualization of cancer cells, enabling better detection and more complete and precise surgical resection of cancer.
"We are pleased to establish this collaboration with Blaze," said Ulrich Mueller, vice president of Industry Relations and Clinical Research Support at Fred Hutch. "It is structured to efficiently match the Hutchinson Center’s superb discovery science with Blaze’s industry expertise in drug selection and peptide drug development in efforts to speed the transfer of Hutchinson Center optides discoveries to the clinic. This will further the Hutchinson’s Center’s overarching mission to eliminate cancer and related diseases as causes of human suffering and death."