Array BioPharma has reportedly signed an agreement with Genentech, a member of Roche Holding AG, to develop cancer compounds involving each company’s small-molecule Checkpoint kinase 1 (ChK-1) program. Under the agreement, which includes Genentech’s compound RG7602 and Array’s AARY-575, Array will receive “an upfront payment of $28 million and is eligible to receive clinical and milestone payments up to $685 million and up to double-digit royalties on sales of any resulting drugs,” according to an Array press release. Genetech assumes responsibility for clinical development and marketing initiatives.

Array describes ChK-1 as “a protein kinase that regulates the tumor cell’s response to DNA damage,” a desirable chemotherapy outcome. Drugs that inhibit ChK-1 during chemotherapy can enhance tumor cell death by interfering with their recovery from that damage. “Combining both companies’ programs will maximize our chances for success in developing and commercializing this novel cancer therapy,” Array’s CEO Robert Conway said. “We believe ChK-1 inhibition is a key strategy for enhancing the efficacy of chemotherapeutic and other agents in cancer patients.” See Reuters and Array BioPharma Press Release, August 8, 2011.