Stepping up behind Sanofi, Genentech rolls the DiCE on a new small molecule discovery pact
Kevin Judice always made a point of staying in touch with some the colleagues he once worked with at Genentech, often bringing them up to speed on the small molecule platform he was building at DiCE Molecules. But he wasn’t quite ready to make any kind of a formal pitch on working together until one of the Bay Area giant’s BD execs came calling recently to get a closer look.
Today, a little less than two years since DiCE Molecules lined up a $2.3 billion discovery pact with Sanofi, heavily weighted to biobucks, the little biotech has come back with its second big alliance with Genentech.
“We actually signed the deal a couple of weeks ago,” says Judice, “and we’ve had the first project meetings.”
Judice’s crew has been working on a small molecule discovery pact that has a close focus on intracellular protein-protein interactions. They’re not saying exactly how big the money can be in this new pact with Genentech, adorned with an upfront, research and milestone payments. But Judice does say that the structure and the scope of the affair has a lot of similarities with Sanofi’s pact.
DiCE will now divvy up its work between its two large-scale collaborations as well as the in-house work it’s doing on its own. In-house the biotech is furthest along with an immunology program, with more work focused on immuno-oncology.
The company, just 7 people — “peanut sized,” is how Judice describes it — when Sanofi stepped up, has grown to 25. And Judice says they’ll keep on growing.
Genentech BD chief James Sabry says that DiCE has a great set of complementary tech for Genentech to work with which “offers the potential to unlock some of the most challenging targets, including those that were once thought to be undruggable.”