Genentech inks its latest discovery deal — this time turning to RNA upstart Skyhawk
Roche’s Genentech has just completed the latest in a string of discovery deals with a lineup of much, much smaller companies looking to do new things in drug development.
Right on the heels of the news of Sosei’s coup bringing Genentech on board as a partner for its GPCR platform, the prolific dealmakers at Skyhawk — run by Bill Haney — have just added the storied biotech subsidiary as its latest partner in the world of drugging RNA.
How much upfront? What exactly are they talking about in terms of targets? This is Roche, so we’ll never know the exact terms unless Haney takes Skyhawk public. We do know that Genentech has put a couple of billion dollars of milestone money on the table — adding to the billions in deals Skyhawk has already inked.
Add it all up, and Haney has now totted up more than $300 million in cash upfronts and scored $14 billion in milestones to go after. That’s an impressive achievement for a biotech that came out of stealth in early 2018.
In addition, Genentech, like the newly signed Merck, is going after both oncology and neurodegeneration, marking the second cancer-related deal at the biotech upstart.
Over the year since James Sabry was given the overall mandate as master dealmaker for all of Roche — after doing the job just for Genentech — he’s been busy signing up discovery deals like this. Roche hasn’t had an appetite for major league acquisitions like AbbVie and Bristol-Myers Squibb, but deals with relatively small upfronts and big back ends with companies like Parvus Therapeutics seems to be its sweet spot right now.
As our breakdown of the top deals in H1 also illustrate, Sabry does play at the high stakes table as well. It’s completed a $300 million upfront pact with Adaptive for personalized cancer immunotherapies and added a $120 million upfront alliance with Xencor.
As for Skyhawk, they add another marquee name to a roster that also includes Biogen, Celgene and Takeda.