No thanks: Roche backs out of EGFR-related protein degraders in revised deal with C4
Roche and C4 Therapeutics have been collaborators since 2016, and the relationship has proved fruitful for the biotech that just went public a little over a month ago.
But the Swiss Pharma is now punting on one of the protein degradation programs in the partnership. Roche is handing back the program targeting EGFR to C4, the biotech said Thursday in reporting its third-quarter financials. C4 was originally notified by Roche in June.
When the companies first entered into their agreement, the deal had allowed C4 to develop their protein degraders for up to 10 targets, with Roche handing over $15 million upfront. C4 was also eligible to receive up to $277 million in milestone payments for each program Roche decided to pick up, as well as up to $150 million in one-time payments for the first product to hit a certain level of net sales.
Roche and C4 then revised the agreement in December 2018, downsizing the number of targets to 6 and securing another upfront Roche payment of $40 million. The amended deal also called for splitting development costs in return for a larger share of future sales. Additionally, Roche picked up three of the six potential targets.
Now though, Roche is returning EGFR protein degraders entirely to C4. Through the collaboration, the companies are allowed to break off on a program-by-program basis and by mode of action. As such, EGFR inhibitors are now entirely Roche property while EGFR degraders belong solely to C4.
Nothing in C4’s current pipeline, which contains two preclinical candidates and two still in the discovery phase, features an EGFR protein degrader, though it’s unclear for how long that will remain. The one program in C4’s pipeline that’s emerged from this collaboration so far is targeting genetically defined resistant solid tumors. That molecule works by binding on one end to the disease-causing target protein with the other end binding to the E3 ligase.
Protein degradation has been a hot topic in oncology in recent years, with C4 competing with the likes of Arvinas and Kymera in the field. Roche also has a deal with Arvinas, signed back in 2015, and paid $135 million in cash this past May to partner with Vividion.
But the Swiss pharma has decided it no longer wants to work on EGFR degraders with C4.