As part of broader gene therapy ambitions, Takeda links up again with a small Chicago biotech
Takeda is inking gene therapy deals left and right. This time, it’s partnering for a second time with Chicago-based protein maker Evozyne.
After lining up collaborations with Code Biotherapeutics, Poseida Therapeutics, Selecta Biosciences and Genevant in recent months, the Japanese pharma wants to go further into next-gen gene therapies. This time, Takeda and Evozyne will work on four rare disease targets.
Evozyne co-founder and science chief Rama Ranganathan told Endpoints News the nearly two-year-old startup was able to deliver results on its first agreement with Takeda in just six months. Going forward, the duo looks to build a “significant long-term partnership,” the co-founder said. The University of Chicago professor launched Evozyne out of Paragon Biosciences, the incubator behind Castle Creek, CiRC, Emalex, Harmony and Skyline (all ending in biosciences).
Evozyne will make new protein sequences, which Takeda can then obtain the exclusive license to develop and commercialize to include in its gene therapy program. The deal includes “double-digit million dollars” upfront and in research payments, but the majority is back-end in a $400 million biobuck pact.
“The basic platform involves a significant computational, algorithmic front-end where we make models for the way that nature builds these protein molecules and then we use those models to generate new solutions that we then actually at Evozyne produce and make all the experimental measurements,” Ranganathan said.
The startup will “ramp up these projects one at a time,” the science chief said. The company is also in talks with “a number of really interesting partners” around Evozyne’s “two broad ambitions”: therapeutics and sustainability, he said. (The company also does work on proteins for recycling and carbon capture, among other environmental projects.)
Evozyne secured about $60 million in a Series A round from Valor Equity Partners and the tech division of Fidelity. The company is located in the same Lincoln Park building as Eli Lilly-backed Vanqua Bio.