Ludwig’s integrated technology development programs are built to efficiently move the most promising breakthroughs from the laboratory to clinical testing. We evaluate our efforts using the measure that matters most—human benefit.
Targeted small molecule therapies are critically important in the battle against cancer. Drugs of this type can be used to block the growth and spread of cancer by selectively interfering with proteins and cellular pathways involved in tumor progression, potentially minimizing their toxicity to healthy tissues. Ludwig formed its Small Molecule Discovery Program to use key fundamental research findings from its labs around the world to generate novel small molecule therapeutic candidates for testing in the clinic.
Based at the San Diego Branch of the Ludwig Institute, Andy Shiau (Director, Small Molecule Discovery Program) has recruited a veteran drug-hunting team with extensive experience in all aspects of drug discovery research. In their previous industrial positions, members of his team have contributed to the advancement of multiple compounds into clinical trials, including the marketed cancer drug apalutamide (Erleada).
Along with sensitive protein-based assays, the group uses sophisticated high-resolution cellular microscopy to rapidly test many compounds. These approaches help determine which of the small molecules control the activity of a protein or pathway that tells cancer cells to grow and multiply out of control. These compounds are then refined through cycles of computational design and medicinal chemistry. In this way, the team generates drug candidates that specifically block cellular processes related to disease development and progression, and cause cancer cells, but not normal ones, to die.
For more information about Ludwig Small Molecule Discovery Program projects, please click here.
The first step in Ludwig’s drive to realize the life-changing possibilities of our science is careful management of intellectual property. The Ludwig Institute’s in-house technology development team works closely with our scientists, spotting patent opportunities, building partnerships and maximizing the potential uses of our breakthroughs. Our expertise in patents, licensing, contracts, portfolio development, clinical trials and start-up biotech ensures that our discoveries will be pursued along multiple avenues both within the Ludwig community and with partners anywhere in the world.
Monoclonal antibodies and hybridoma cell lines originated by Ludwig Institute scientists are available for licensing. Click here for a searchable PDF.
Several biological models also are available:
PI3K Transgenic models
Another way Ludwig accelerates discoveries to improve human health is by starting private companies that focus on a promising breakthrough with commercial potential. The Ludwig Institute may hold an equity stake in the venture, providing scientific assistance and potentially generating financial returns to fund additional research.
Several Ludwig-born companies have been acquired by pharmaceutical and biotech companies, increasing the potential of our discoveries to benefit patients.
Swiss T cell therapy company Tigen Pharma has committed to develop and commercialize a neoantigen T Cell product for cancer therapy, NeoTIL, that was developed by researchers at Ludwig Lausanne, the CHUV and the University of Lausanne. The technology harnesses tumor-infiltrating T lymphocytes that have been enriched for anti-tumor specificity to target cancer antigens unique to individual patients, generating highly optimized, individualized T cell therapies for cancer. Visit website.
Epigenome Technologies, launched in 2020, specializes in single-cell multi-omics technologies to study the epigenome in normal and disease states using a proprietary Paired-Tag technology, based on research from the San Diego Branch of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research. Visit website.
Base Genomics launched in June, 2020, as an epigenetics company applying technology developed at Ludwig Oxford to devise minimally invasive tests, or liquid biopsies, for cancer. The startup licensed its core technology—TET-assisted pyridine borane sequencing (TAPS)— from the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research. TAPS is a vastly improved and cost-effective method for sequencing a modification made to DNA known as methylation that regulates gene expression and is widely disordered in cancer. Base Genomics was acquired in November 2020, by Exact Sciences, which will apply its core technology to cancer diagnostics. Visit website.
VACCITECH ONCOLOGY LIMITED
Vaccitech Oncology Limited (VOLT) is an oncology focused strategic collaboration between Ludwig Cancer Research and Vaccitech, a clinical stage T cell immunotherapy company. VOLT has licensed Vaccitech’s proprietary CD8+ T cell induction platform and research from the Ludwig Oxford Branch, validating this platform with MAGE and NY-ESO-1 cancer antigens. VOLT has entered into a clinical partnership with Cancer Research UK to evaluate VOLT’s VTP-600 immunotherapy as a therapeutic option for patients with non-small cell lung cancer.
Arima Genomics is a genomics company founded in 2015. Arima is developing tools to accelerate the understanding and application of spatial genomics toward discovery, diagnosis and therapy based on research from the San Diego Branch of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research. Visit website.
iOx Therapeutics was established in 2015 to develop synthetic lipid compounds to prime and boost an immune response in cancer patients by stimulating invariant natural killer T cells (iNKT). The novel cancer immunotherapy was discovered through a collaboration between Ludwig Cancer Research and the University of Oxford’s Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine. In 2022, iOx was acquired by Portage Biotech Inc which is continuing clinical development of the iNKT agonist in collaboration with Merck for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer. Visit website.
iTeos Therapeutics is a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company developing a new generation of immuno-oncology therapeutics to stimulate the immune system’s ability to attack cancer. Launched in 2012 by the Ludwig Institute with the de Duve Institute at the Université catholique de Louvain in Belgium, iTeos is investigating Inupadenant, an A2A receptor antagonist, as a treatment for solid tumors in monotherapy, and in combination with the immunotherapy pembrolizumab or chemotherapy. It is also developing EOS-448, an ADCC-enabled anti-TIGIT antibody antagonist in cancer patients together with GSK. Visit website.
Serametrix began operations in 2009 to develop and commercialize products based on the Ludwig Institute’s pioneering biomarker and immune monitoring research, conducted at the former New York Branch, for predicting drug response in cancer patients. In 2019, Serametrix was acquired by Caprion Biosciences, now rebranded as CellCarta. Visit website.
Recepta, Brazil’s first oncology start-up company, is pursuing clinical development of targeted antibodies generated by Ludwig investigators. In 2007, Recepta initiated the first FDA-registered phase II clinical trial fully conceived and conducted in Brazil. Recepta partner Mersana Therapeutics is developing XMT-1536 an antibody drug conjugate of the RebmAB200 (MX35) antibody developed at the former New York Branch, in ovarian and lung cancer patients. Visit website.
LIFE SCIENCES PHARMACEUTICALS
Life Sciences, established in 2006, is developing targeted antibodies generated and validated in clinical trials by the Ludwig Institute. These antibodies are potentially beneficial in treating or diagnosing a variety of cancers. Life Sciences’ partner AbbVie is developing antibody drug conjugate therapeutics derived from anti-EGFR antibody mAb806 against solid tumors. The mAb806 antibody was developed through an extensive collaboration between the San Diego Branch and the former New York, Stockholm, and Melbourne Branches of the Ludwig Institute. Visit website.
Vegenics began in 2006 in collaboration with Licentia Ltd, the technology transfer arm of the University of Helsinki, to develop and commercialize products based on discoveries made at the former Melbourne and Stockholm Branches as part of the Ludwig Institute’s global angiogenesis program. In 2008, Vegenics was acquired by Circadian Technologies Ltd and rebranded as Opthea Ltd in 2015. Opthea is developing OPT-302, a VEGF-C/D ‘trap’ inhibitor, in participants with treatment-naive wet age-related macular degeneration. Visit website.
Lymphatix was created in 2004 with Licentia Ltd to develop and commercialize products based on discoveries made at the former Melbourne and Stockholm Branches as part of the Ludwig Institute’s global angiogenesis program. The company was acquired by Ark Therapeutics Group in 2008.
The Ludwig Institute started its first company, Piramed Ltd, to develop new cancer therapies based on selective small-molecule inhibitors of phosphatidyl-inositol 3-kinase (PI3K) signal transduction. These inhibitors resulted from research conducted at the former Ludwig Institute Branch in London, with collaborators at Cancer Research UK and the Institute of Cancer Research. In 2008, Piramed was acquired for by the pharmaceutical company Roche.