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Sareum hails year of progress as it readies for another key period in its development

The AIM-listed group, whose focus is cancer and autoimmune diseases, licensed its SRA737 to US firm Sierra Oncology just over a year ago
cancer cells
Chk1 inhibitors use the body’s immune system to attack cancer cells. They have scored some success in treating metastatic melanoma and Hodgkin lymphoma

It has been a year of significant progress for Sareum Holdings PLC (LON:SAR) – one that’s seen headway with its lead drug candidate and success in securing its immediate funding needs.

The AIM-listed group, whose focus is cancer and autoimmune diseases, licensed its SRA737 to US firm Sierra Oncology just over a year ago.

READ: Sareum chairman hails “year of significant progress” and looks ahead to busy 2018

“Sierra is highly committed, well-funded and has proven experience in oncology drug development,” said chairman Stephen Parker at the company’s annual meeting.

An update on SRA737’s development programme is due late February, while data from studies will be presented in the second half of next year.

IN DETAIL: How Chk1 inhibitors work

The Sareum discovery is a new breed of targeted cancer drugs called checkpoint kinase 1, or Chk1 inhibitors.

In simple, layman’s terms, Chk1 inhibitors use the body’s immune system to attack cancer cells. They have scored some success in treating metastatic melanoma and Hodgkin lymphoma.

Funded and working on the drug pipeline

While SRA737’s progress will be closely monitored, the company does have a pipeline of other candidates with plenty of promise.  

And Sareum has been using the almost £2mln it has already received from partner Sierra, as well as a recent £700,000 fundraise to advance these programmes.

It has made encouraging progress with its TYK2 inhibitors and is on track to complete the preclinical development of its Aurora+FLT3 programme for acute leukaemias.

The firm is continuing to talk with potential partners with a view to securing licensing deals similar to the one it inked with Sierra.

On the lookout

It is also on the lookout for new research programmes – both from its own in-house discovery platform and from outside the business.

“The directors consider the year 2017 to have been transformational for Sareum, and I would like to thank our shareholders for their continued support and look forward to providing further updates on progress in 2018,” Parker told the annual meeting.

The Sareum share price, up around 9% in the year to date, values the business at around £22mln.

Is that reflective of progress made to date and the potential value of the deal with Sierra?

Probably not: the headline worth of this collaboration is £238mln (US$319mln) to be paid in instalments and is subject to the company hitting certain research and development milestones. Sareum is entitled to 27.5% of all payments.

Hidden value

One only has to look at the share price of Sierra Oncology, which is listed on NASDAQ, to realise there is a disconnect between how the US and UK values cutting-edge life science businesses.

Sierra’s shares have more than doubled in value in the last three months, buoyed by the excitement around SRA737.

It means Sierra now has a market capitalisation of £132mln, making it six times larger than Sareum.

You suspect at some point British investors will see the glaring anomaly and act.

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