News briefing: Boehringer Ingelheim expands protein degradation efforts; Pfizer enlists a new AI partner
Boehringer Ingelheim is expanding its efforts in protein degradation, signing a pact with the Austrian biotech Proxygen to develop a technology known as “molecular glue degraders.”
Similar to the PROTACS that companies have focused on to date, molecular glue degraders are designed to bridge proteins to the body’s own internal disposal system, allowing researchers to target proteins that can’t be hit by traditional small molecules. The multiple myeloma drugs Revlimid and Pomalyst work in this manner. Founded in 2016, Proxygen has worked to develop methods of systematically finding new ones.
The collaboration will focus on cancer, an ear Boehringer has directed much of its protein degradation work to date. In 2016, the German company became one of the first Big Pharmas to go in on the field, signing a cancer pact with the University of Dundee. — Jason Mast
FDA rolls out red carpet for Scynexis’ super bug antibiotic.
Scynexis is getting a ready welcome as it heads for its first anti-fungal approval.
The New Jersey biotech announced Monday that its application for approval for the drug ibrexafungerp for vaginal yeast infections had been accepted and given priority review by the agency. The drug succeeded in a 376-person Phase III trial last year, clearing patients of infection better than infection.
Vaginal yeast infection has long been their lead indications, but Scynexis also became famous last year for having one of the drugs in development for Candida Auris, a fungal infection that has cropped up around the world, alarming health officials. Studies in that indication are ongoing. — Jason Mast
4D is ready to throw down as the red-hot biotech IPO market rocks on
4D Molecular Therapeutics is lining up the latest IPO in the trendy gene therapy field.
The AAV biotech is looking to raise $100 million-plus from the IPO, auctioning off close to 5 million shares at a range of $20 to $25 a share.
Those upsized numbers put 4D back in the hunt for the 9-figure sum it had in mind when the execs first filed to go public in the fall of 2019.
There have been 82 biotech IPOs counted in the US this year, a record number that brought in a chart-topping $15 billion in proceeds. And Nasdaq clearly isn’t ready to close the window on 2020. — John Carroll
Pfizer collabs with AI player PostEra to develop new preclinical drug models
Pfizer has a new partner in the nascent field of generative chemistry.
The big pharma is teaming up with PostEra, a San Francisco company founded last year that focuses on the AI-influenced field and specializes in mining large datasets. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but PostEra received an upfront payment with potential milestones available down the road. PostEra noted that it will retain ownership rights to all algorithms developed during the collaboration.
PostEra has developed a machine learning-based platform that it says designs molecular structures with optimized potency and drug-like properties. Ultimately, PostEra hopes that its model can help accelerate the drug development process.
Monday’s collaboration will pair Pfizer’s vast reach and resources with PostEra’s technology, in an effort to both advance the field of generative chemistry and produce scalable models for in-house, preclinical drug discovery projects.
The company originally spawned out of academic research from the University of Cambridge. Earlier this year, PostEra also launched Covid Moonshot, a crowdsourced initiative to speed the development of an antiviral for Covid-19. — Max Gelman