New immunotherapy drug targets for cancer will be progressed through a multimillion-pound drug discovery alliance announced today (Wednesday) between Cancer Research UK, LifeArc and Ono Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.

The multi-year partnership brings together Cancer Research UK’s network of world-leading scientists and drug discovery expertise, LifeArc’s renowned therapeutic antibody engineering and development expertise, and Ono’s considerable track record in developing cancer immunotherapies.

The collaboration will identify targets for the development of both antibody and small molecule therapeutics. Boosted by a multimillion-pound investment from Ono and a further investment from LifeArc, drug discovery experts will be pursuing targets within Cancer Research UK’s extensive portfolio of immuno-oncology research.

This new collaboration expands upon an existing alliance between Cancer Research UK and LifeArc announced in 2017. Ono’s investment and expertise will help identify new therapeutic targets, accelerate target validation within the alliance, and support validated targets through the drug discovery phase.

Under the terms of the deal, LifeArc will progress antibody projects via its antibody screening and development expertise. Small molecule projects will be taken forward by Cancer Research UK’s Therapeutic Discovery Labs.

Morphological changes in breast cancer cellsOno will have option rights to licence the outputs of the alliance and take on clinical development and commercialisation of successful projects with worldwide exclusive rights. Cancer Research UK and LifeArc will receive an upfront access fee for entering the alliance, as well as additional upfront, milestone, and royalty payments for licensed projects.

Dr Hamish Ryder, director of Cancer Research UK’s Therapeutic Discovery Labs, said: “We’re thrilled to welcome Ono to join and expand our successful collaboration with LifeArc and create one of our most ambitious alliances to date. This unique alliance is a melting pot of world-leading cancer research and each organisation’s extensive expertise in oncology drug discovery.

“As we enter into a new age of immuno-therapeutic approaches to cancer care, we hope that this partnership will accelerate the development of new treatments, bringing them to patients with cancer much faster.”

LifeArc CEO, Melanie Lee, noted; “At LifeArc, we are committed to translating medical innovation to benefit patients with new therapies, diagnostics or by building on the understanding of disease.  This collaboration with Cancer Research UK and Ono is an example of how shared goals and collaboration can create real value.”

“We greatly appreciate Cancer Research UK’s network of scientists, drug discovery expertise together with LifeArc’s antibody development capabilities,” said Dr. Toichi Takino, Ph.D., Corporate Officer and Executive Director, Discovery and Research of Ono.

“We are very pleased to join in the successful collaboration between Cancer Research UK and LifeArc and we believe that we together will successfully identify novel drug candidates for new cancer treatment in the immuno-oncology field, which will be further developed and commercialized by us throughout the world and fulfil unmet medical needs.”


For media enquiries contact Kathryn Ingham in the Cancer Research UK press office on 020 3469 5475 or, out of hours, on 07050 264 059.

To contact LifeArc, please call Corporate Communications on +44 (0)20 7391 2700.

Notes to editors

About Cancer Research UK’s Commercial Partnerships Team

Cancer Research UK is the world’s leading cancer charity dedicated to saving lives through research. Our specialist Commercial Partnerships Team works closely with leading international cancer scientists and their institutes to protect intellectual property arising from their research and to establish links with commercial partners. The team develop promising ideas into successful cancer therapeutics, software, devices, diagnostics and enabling technologies. This helps to accelerate progress in exciting new discoveries in cancer research and bring new treatments to patients sooner. Visit

Cancer Research UK’s commercial activity operates through Cancer Research Technology Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of Cancer Research UK. It is the legal entity which pursues drug discovery research in themed alliance partnerships and delivers varied commercial partnering arrangements.

About Cancer Research UK’s Therapeutic Discovery Laboratories

Cancer Research UK’s Therapeutic Discovery Laboratories (CRUK-TDL) is the charity’s in-house drug discovery unit based at the Babraham Research Campus, Cambridge, and the London Bioscience Innovation Centre. Its principal focus is to establish biologically-themed, multi-project alliances with industry, bringing together the best minds in cancer research with the rigour and drive of pharmaceutical and biotech companies to deliver breakthrough medicines for cancer patients.

CRUK-TDL comprises over 80 staff from both industrial and academic backgrounds with expertise spanning cancer target validation and disease positioning, immunology, assay development and HTS, protein crystallography, medicinal chemistry, PK-PD and cancer models.


About Cancer Research UK
  • Cancer Research UK is the world’s leading cancer charity dedicated to saving lives through research.
  • Cancer Research UK’s pioneering work into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer has helped save millions of lives.
  • Cancer Research UK receives no government funding for its life-saving research. Every step it makes towards beating cancer relies on vital donations from the public.
  • Cancer Research UK has been at the heart of the progress that has already seen survival in the UK double in the last forty years.
  • Today, 2 in 4 people survive their cancer for at least 10 years. Cancer Research UK’s ambition is to accelerate progress so that by 2034, 3 in 4 people will survive their cancer for at least 10 years.
  • Cancer Research UK supports research into all aspects of cancer through the work of over 4,000 scientists, doctors and nurses.
  • Together with its partners and supporters, Cancer Research UK’s vision is to bring forward the day when all cancers are cured.
  • Cancer Research UK has extensive expertise in drug discovery and development as established through the charity’s Therapeutic Discovery Laboratories and Centre for Drug Development. The organisation also has access to large scale clinical trial capabilities through the Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC) network.

For further information about Cancer Research UK’s work or to find out how to support the charity, please call 0300 123 1022 or visit Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

About LifeArc

LifeArc is a medical research charity with a 25-year legacy of helping scientists and organisations turn their research into treatments and diagnostics for patients.  LifeArc turns great science into greater patient impact.  The charity brings together a network of partners to tackle specific diseases and directly funds academic and early stage research.  So far, LifeArc’s work has helped to develop four drugs (Keytruda®, Actemra®, Tysabri® and Entyvio®) and a test for resistance to carbapenems. Twitter @lifearc1

About Ono Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.

Ono Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., headquartered in Osaka, Japan, is an R&D-oriented pharmaceutical company committed to create innovative medicines in specific areas. It focuses especially on the oncology and diabetes areas. For more information, please visit the company’s website at