Star-crossed AstraZeneca strikes a drug discovery deal with upstart Bicycle

AstraZeneca has struck a discovery deal with Bicycle Therapeutics, a trans-Atlantic biotech which hopes to make a splash with a new breed of molecules.

The biotech gained their second round of $32 million two years ago, attracting support from Atlas Venture, Novartis Venture Fund, SR One, SV Life Sciences and Astellas Venture Management. The venture groups were drawn to a Cambridge, UK startup that promised to develop bicycle peptides that would combine the specificity of antibodies with the rapid tissue penetration of small molecules. And they brought in some high profile players, including Pfizer vet Kevin Lee as CEO, adding a US office in that “other” Cambridge in Massachusetts for its BD team.

There’s no word on the deal breakdown, but Bicycle says that if you add up the upfront, R&D support and milestones, the deal would come in at about $1 billion in potential payoffs. It’s also worth noting, though, that discovery deals typically start small and only end up big if all the stars align.

In the deal, Bicycle will be responsible for identifying candidates for a set of targets (number undisclosed) and AstraZeneca will have to push through on the clinical front.

The stars haven’t been aligning very well for AstraZeneca, though, which has experienced a number of late-stage setbacks over the course of the year.

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