Bayer inks up with “small” Indian biotech for new approach at an old target
Curadev, the self-admittedly “small” Indian biotech, has racked up another big-name partnership.
Bayer has promised up to €250 million ($267 million) in biobucks for access to Curadev’s STING platform, the same one that Takeda jumped in on last May. The deal gives Bayer rights to treatments for a series of lung, cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases. Takeda had licensed the lead molecule from that platform, an antibody drug conjugate for immuno-oncology.
The STING — or cGAS-STING — pathway is an internal surveillance system in which the body’s innate immune system searches for foreign nucleic acids, a sign of external and dangerous pathogens. Sometimes, though, that system sets fires when it sees self-DNA, a disastrous false alarm that can lead to cancers and autoimmune diseases. In 2018, Eli Lilly signed an up-to $620 million deal with a STING biotech and Merck released early data on a molecule, while GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis and Bristol Myers Squibb have their own programs.
The main hope, though, for those programs was treating cancer, an approach that’s reaped few results. Bayer is wading into the waters with a different tact, testing to see if the pathway’s best potential might lay outside oncology.
This marks the third major partnership for Curadev and their second off the STING platform. In 2015, the biotech signed an up-to $555 million deal with Roche on drugs that target IDO1 and TDO, two enzymes that tumors use to evade the immune system. Those enzyme targets have since come up dry for a host of players, Roche included. In 2017, Curadev began switching tactics, filing their first patents for the STING platform.
The IDO1 and TDO drugs are still on Curadev’s official pipeline, but they remain, 5 years later, in a preclinical stage.