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Forma signs another major big pharma cancer deal, this time with Janssen

The $700m agreement follows its deal last week with Boehringer Ingelheim

With the ink still drying on its $815m deal with Boehringer Ingelheim, cancer specialist Forma Therapeutics has signed a major deal with Johnson & Johnson that provides yet another endorsement of its discovery platform.

J&J's Janssen Biotech has entered into an exclusive deal with Forma - worth up to $700m - to develop and market small-molecule drugs that target tumour metabolism mechanisms.

The discovery specialist will discover and develop drugs against a panel of targets using a "broad chemical biology approach to understanding the unique biology underlying cancer metabolism", according to Kenneth Bair, Forma's head of R&D.

Additional financial terms have not been disclosed, but the agreement covers project funding and milestone payments over several years.

In something of a departure from Forma's earlier deals, it includes provision for Forma to retain a royalty revenue on products that successfully make it through to market, and also co-development and North American commercial rights "to one programme of Janssen's selection", said the company.

Last week's deal between Forma and Boehringer Ingelheim brought in a $65m upfront payment, plus up to $750m research funding, to support screening of cancer-targeted compounds over four years.

In that deal and others before it, Forma has given its partners the option of buying a programme outright, foregoing a royalty stream. The company also has collaborations in place with Genentech, Eisai, Cubist and Novartis.

Towards the end of last year Forma opened a brand new 45,000 sq. ft. US facility in Watertown, Massachusetts, that serves as its corporate headquarters as well as housing high-throughput screening, computational and medicinal chemistry, and biology staff.

The company has built what it describes as an 'industrialised' drug discovery platform that can screen millions of compounds per year against dozens of different targets.

11th January 2012

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