Launch of Start-up QLi5 Therapeutics

Development of novel proteasome inhibitors for treating cancer, inflammatory and autoimmune disorders

The proteasome is a hollow cylinder consisting of 28 subunits, which are shown in color here in the ligament model. Inside the molecule are the active centers as binding sites for various inhibitors (white). The proteasome is degrading proteins that are no longer required and therefore plays an important role in cell regulation. Novel proteasome inhibitors with unique binding characteristics should create the basis for new therapies for the treatment of cancer, inflammation and autoimmune diseases. Illustration: Robert Huber © MPI of Biochemistry

The Lead Discovery Center GmbH (LDC) and the South Korean drug development specialist Qurient have founded QLi5 Therapeutics GmbH, together with the LDC’s partners, the Max Planck Society (MPG) and Nobel laureate Prof. Huber, emeritus director of the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry. Dortmund based QLi5 Therapeutics licensed novel proteasome inhibitors from LDC and its partners. QLi5 Therapeutics will advance these towards preclinical and clinical development for the treatment of cancers and inflammatory and autoimmune disorders.

The novel proteasome inhibitors were generated within a long standing and successful collaboration between the LDC and Prof. Huber. Combining Prof. Huber’s vast expertise in the field of proteasome with the LDC’s drug discovery capabilities, the partners have created a portfolio of proteasome inhibitors with unique binding characteristics and favourable pharmacodynamic properties. The further development in the joint venture with Qurient is the outcome of a successful strategic partnership between Qurient, LDC and Max Planck.

The proteasome is a real treasure chest and the launch of Qli5 Therapeutics enables us to harness its potential for the treatment of many diseases. Our new generation of proteasome inhibitors is set to overcome key challenges that have so far hampered a broader application of the first generation of covalently acting proteasome inhibitors.

Prof. Robert Huber
Nobel laureate, emeritus director of the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry

The proteasome plays an important role in cell regulation by degrading proteins and represents a well established clinical target for the treatment of liquid tumours, in particular multiple myeloma.

We believe the LDC’s innovative proteasome inhibitors hold exceptional potential, and we are excited to be part of QLi5 Therapeutics to jointly advance them towards preclinical and clinical testing. We very much appreciate the LDC as long-term partner and prime source of external innovation.

Kiyean Nam
CEO and CSO of Qurient

Over the last years, Qurient has licensed two other inhibitor projects from the LDC, targeting the kinases, Axl and CDK7 respectively. Both leads have made considerable progress since, e.g. nomination for clinical development.

The foundation of Qli5 Therapeutics is the current peak of our trustful and long-term collaborations with Prof. Huber and Qurient, our exceptionally strong and committed South Korean partner. This joint venture is wonderful step forward in our mutual relationship and it is a great opportunity to translate the potential of the proteasome complex into more tangible benefits for patients.”

Dr. Bert Klebl
CEO and CSO of the LDC

Having previously licensed assets to Qurient, we are delighted to now jointly start-up a venture with Qurient. QLi5 provides excellent prospects to enable a much needed next generation of proteasome inhibitors. Bringing the company on track together with Qurient has been a swift and smooth endeavour.

Dr. Dieter Link
Licensing manager at Max Planck Innovation

About Qurient

Qurient is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company listed in Korea Exchange (KRX 115180). Qurient mainly focuses on development of novel therapeutics from discovery to human proof of concept stages through virtual R&D project management platform. Qurient currently has three programs in clinical development: Q301, a topical leukotriene inhibitor for atopic dermatitis, completed Phase 2b study; telacebec (Q203), a first-in-class orally available cytochrome bc1 inhibitor for tuberculosis, completed Phase 2 study; and Q702, entering Phase 1/2 study under US FDA. Qurient recently nominated Q901, a selective CDK7 inhibitor, as a preclinical candidate for solid tumors, which is expected to enter the clinic in 2021.
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About Lead Discovery Center

The Lead Discovery Center was established in 2008 by the technology transfer organization Max Planck Innovation, as a novel approach to capitalize on the potential of excellent basic research for the discovery of new therapies for diseases with high medical need. The Lead Discovery Center takes on promising early-stage projects from academia and transforms them into innovative pharmaceutical leads and antibodies that reach initial proof-of-concept in animals. In close collaboration with high-profile partners from academia and industry, the Lead Discovery Center is building a strong and growing portfolio of small molecule leads with exceptional medical and commercial potential.
The Lead Discovery Center sustains a long-term partnership with the Max Planck Society and KHAN-I technology transfer GmbH & Co.KG. LDC has formed alliances with AstraZeneca, Bayer, Boehringer Ingelheim, Merck KGaA, Daiichi Sankyo, Qurient and Sotio as well as leading translational drug discovery centers. More recently, LDC and KHAN-I are transferring their assets also into spin-outs for syndication with other investors.
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About Max Planck Innovation

Max Planck Innovation (MI) is responsible for the technology transfer of the Max Planck Society and, as such, the link between industry and basic research. With an interdisciplinary, team MI advises and supports scientists at Max Planck Institutes in evaluating their inventions, filing patents and founding companies. MI offers industry unique access to the innovations of the Max Planck Institutes. Thus, MI performs an important task: the transfer of basic research results into products that contribute to economic and social progress.
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