Venture Capital

Pfizer lines up an $830M alliance with Arvinas on protein degradation

Arvinas has lined up its third Big Pharma partner for a trip down the discovery path of protein degradation.

Sean Cassidy

Pfizer has signed on to fund the launch of a hunt for a slate of small molecules that can degrade proteins, a key therapeutic pathway that’s been playing a role in prostate cancer and other areas.

Like a lot of Pfizer $PFE pacts, the news comes with only a few snippets of information. We don’t know the upfront, but the overall packet of milestones adds up to a whopping $830 million for unbridled success. Total number of programs involved? No idea. Disease focuses? Uh-uh.

Arvinas has signed two other major alliances with marquee pharmas, inking deals with Genentech and Merck earlier. And Genentech came back last November to double down on the relationship, pushing the milestones up to $650 million.

While the details are few and far between, CFO Sean Cassidy tells me that the relationship is a big plus for the biotech, helping them assert boasting rights as the leader in a field that also includes C4 Therapeutics — out of Jay Bradner’s lab at Dana Farber before he took the helm at NIBR — and the startup Kymera. And not surprisingly, Bradner recently forged a close relationship with UC San Francisco on protein degradation as well.

The scientific concept is simple enough. Instead of settling for protein inhibition, the big idea here is that degradation and disposal through the ubiquitin-proteasome system offers a more durable approach to fighting diseases. And it’s been increasingly popular in the industry.

The staff at Arvinas, around 50 now, is slated to grow to 75 over the next year.

Arvinas has been working on its own internal pipeline while working with its collaborators. One of these projects includes a focus on tau for Alzheimer’s, one of the toxic concentrations often fingered as a culprit in the disease.

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Research Scientist - Immunology
Recursion Pharmaceuticals Salt Lake City, UT
Director of Operations
Atlas Venture Cambridge, MA

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