Bayer enlists Arvinas on two-pronged protein degradation effort, foraying into agtech
Arvinas has inked another Big Pharma partnership to get their protein degradation engines revving — for both humans and crops.
All told, the German conglomerate is wagering $115 million on the potential of Arvinas’ tech platform, which uses an E3 ligase to tag target proteins with an ubiquitin, flushing these disease culprits down the cell’s natural “garbage disposal.” And Bayer is in for the whole package, with a collaboration, an equity investment and a joint venture in play.
A harbinger of the protein degradation space, Arvinas comes of age as peers at C4 Therapeutics and Kymera also gains popularity among the likes of Biogen, Vertex and GlaxoSmithKline. Compared to the traditional inhibition approach, getting rid of problematic proteins promises to be a much more durable solution for diseases like cancer.
“Because PROTACs don’t inhibit the target protein’s enzymatic activity, but bind their targets with high selectivity, it may be possible to retool previously ineffective inhibitor molecules as PROTACs for next-generation medicines for patients,” Joerg Moeller, Bayer’s head of R&D, said in a statement.
On the therapeutic side, Bayer’s total commitment — upfront, R&D support plus equity — amounts to $60 million. It gets them the rights to novel lead structures Arvinas generates in the process but doesn’t cover the additional $685 million in potential milestone payments.
The pact will span cardiovascular, oncological and gynecological diseases.
The other $55 million in the deal goes, in the course of six years, to a joint venture set up to explore how Arvinas’ technology can tackle the weeds, insects or diseases endemic in agriculture. Where previous crop protection efforts have succumbed to resistance, protein degradation may be able to revive them, the partners said.
“As the first company founded to explore targeted protein degradation, we’ve been excited about the potential to improve the lives of patients since our inception,” said Arvinas CEO John Houston. “This collaboration enables us not only to expand our platform into new therapeutic areas, but also begins a new journey in applying our approach to agriculture.”
The cash exchanged trumps previous partnerships, in which Genentech and Pfizer paid less to get discovery alliances started but pledged biobucks, greatly raising Arvinas’ profile before it even got into the clinic. Its lead therapy in prostate cancer is now in Phase I trials.