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MD Anderson, Orionis Biosciences Ink Partnership to Advance, Repurpose Small-Molecule Cancer Drugs

NEW YORK – Orionis Biosciences and the MD Anderson Cancer Center's Therapeutics Discovery division said on Tuesday that they have teamed up on a research project to advance drug development through genome-scale mapping of drug-target interactions.

The goal of the research collaboration, dubbed Project Helios, is to identify opportunities to develop, optimize, and potentially repurpose treatments using information gleaned from a large collection of drug-target interaction data. The research will initially focus on drugs to address unmet needs in oncology, though it may ultimately branch into other therapeutic areas.

For its part of the collaboration, Waltham, Massachusetts-based Orionis will contribute its high-throughput drug discovery platforms, while MD Anderson will bring its small-molecule and translational biology expertise. Using a large portfolio of small molecules, including both approved drugs and investigational agents, Project Helios will involve systematically mapping how these drugs interact across the human proteome, potentially leading to discoveries such as ways to repurpose approved therapies, optimize ways to approach known treatment targets, and develop treatments for novel targets. The partnership is "a fundamental step toward new approaches in drug discovery that will enlighten our understanding of the dark proteome," according to Orionis CEO Niko Kley.

"This effort will build on a wealth of public data, chemical and clinical knowledge that has been assembled over many years across the pharmaceutical industry and biomedical institutions," Kley said in a statement.