Academia, Research Institutes

Deerfield bankrolls an $80M research center at Dana-Farber devoted to protein degradation

In just the latest example of how hot the whole protein degradation field has grown over the last 2 years, Dana-Farber and Deerfied have struck a deal to collaborate on an $80 million initiative aimed at creating a new pipeline of therapies through what they’re billing as a “next-generation protein degrader platform.”

Their new Center for Protein Degradation at Dana-Farber is being led by Nathanael Gray and Eric Fischer, with the first money coming from Deerfield, which has been bankrolling a variety of discovery deals.

Scientists at Dana-Farber and Harvard Medical School will be working on new protein degradation drugs. James Flynn, managing partner at Deerfield, heralded the pact as a new source of cancer drugs.

Eric Fischer

That may well end up appealing to a broad group of top companies leading the charge on new cancer therapies. Dana-Farber is helmed by Laurie Glimcher, whose move from Bristol-Myers Squibb’s board over to GlaxoSmithKline helped highlight the R&D shift at the company.

It could also end up creating some new biotech spinoffs. Deerfield funded a $50 million translational effort at the Broad Institute a year ago with new company creation in mind.

Protein degradation continues to capture the attention of an important group of startups looking to do much better than the protein inhibition work that helped inspire it — disposing target proteins rather than just putting them on mute. Just this week Kymera, one of the pioneers in the field, reaped a $65 million round. Arvinas and C4 are often cited for their work as well. And Jay Bradner at NIBR, who founded C4, has demonstrated his enthusiasm with a collaboration deal involving UC San Francisco.


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