Experts in structural biology and drug development will help exploit the deubiquitylase (DUB) enzyme family as new drug targets
Dundee, UK, 5 July 2022: Ubiquigent Limited (Ubiquigent), a leading partner for deubiquitylase (DUB) enzyme and ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) focused drug discovery, today announced the expansion of its Scientific Advisory Board with the appointments of Professor Helen Walden and Professor John Davis. The combined experience of the two new members will support both the ongoing development of Ubiquigent’s DUB and UPS focused drug discovery services business and the development of its in-house portfolio of novel DUB modulators and associated drug discovery programmes.
Helen is Professor of Structural Biology at the University of Glasgow and Director of the Institute of Molecular Cell and Systems Biology, with over 20 years’ experience in the UPS. Her team recently reported the structure of USP1 in complex with a USP1 inhibitor. The first DUB inhibitor to enter clinical development was developed by KSQ Therapeutics against this target. Helen previously worked at the MRC-Phosphorylation and Ubiquitylation Unit at the University of Dundee after establishing her own group at Cancer Research UK’s London Research Institute, now the Francis Crick Institute. She completed her postdoctoral research at St Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, where she focused on the mechanisms of ubiquitination and solved the structure of the E1 enzyme for Nedd8. Helen holds a BSc in Biochemistry from the University of Bath and a PhD from the University of St Andrews, investigating the structural basis of protein hyperthermostability.
John is Chief Scientific Officer for the Centre for Medicines Discovery at the University of Oxford and Director of Business Development for the Alzheimer’s Research UK (ARUK) Drug Discovery Alliance. He has more than 25 years of drug discovery expertise, having progressed multiple drug candidates into the clinic. John first joined the University of Oxford to set up and lead the ARUK Oxford Drug Discovery Institute and during his tenure has formed several industrial alliances. As Head of Biology at GlaxoSmithKline, John led pre-clinical pharmacology research departments prior to co-founding Convergence Therapeutics, subsequently acquired by Biogen, as well as a further three start-up companies. He received his BSc in Biochemistry from the University of Bristol and a PhD in the molecular pathology of cardiovascular disease from the University of Cambridge, with postdoctoral training at the Ludwig Institute and an EMBO fellowship at The Salk Institute.
Prof. Helen Walden, SAB Member, Ubiquigent, commented: “The DUBs have emerged as an exciting new group of drug targets due to their central role in the ubiquitin-proteasome system. Building a better understanding of the structure of these enzymes will enable the discovery of new drugs capable of modulating their function. Ubiquigent has already developed a comprehensive portfolio of novel DUB modulators, including DUB Inhibitors and Deubiquitinase Targeting Chimeras (DUBTACs), but I look forward to supporting them with structural biology led insights to accelerate their development of new treatments for patients with unmet clinical needs.”
Prof. John Davis, SAB Member, Ubiquigent, said: “DUBs are increasingly implicated in human diseases, including neurological conditions, cancer, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, and yet they remain largely unexploited targets in therapeutic development. Ubiquigent is supremely well positioned to support the identification of novel DUB enzyme modulators, and I look forward to working closely with the team to accelerate their drug discovery programmes.”
Dr Sheelagh Frame, Chief Scientific Officer, Ubiquigent, added: “Helen and John bring a breadth of knowledge and experience in structural biology and drug development to the Ubiquigent SAB. Their extensive expertise will be extremely valuable in driving our continuing progress in the identification and development of DUB enzyme modulators as new therapeutics.”