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Roche makes protein degradation play with $135m Vividion deal

Exclusive deal with Vividion includes potential for “multibillion dollar future payments”

Roche Basel Switzerland

Roche has stepped up its interest in the emerging area of protein degradation as a drug target via a licensing deal with US biotech Vividion Therapeutics.

The Swiss drug giant is paying $135m upfront to access Vividion’s proteomics screening platform and small molecule library to find E3 ligases, a class of proteins that are involved in the breakdown of proteins in cells that have become damaged or are no longer needed.

There is growing interest in using protein degradation pathways to find drugs against proteins that have until recently been considered undruggable targets. It is estimated that only 25-30% of known cellular proteins can be targeted by current drugs, with the remaining 70-75% of proteins regarded as undruggable.

Roche’s exclusive deal with Vividion includes the potential for “multibillion dollar future payments”, according to the US biotech, which says the two companies will also work on “a range of oncology and immunology therapeutic targets.”

It will work on early drug discovery and preclinical development for some projects, with an option to take others through to the clinical proof-of-concept stage, which Roche has the right to license compounds at various stages of development.

It’s not the first deal for Roche in this area, as its biologics unit Genentech has previously worked with another protein degradation specialist – Arvinas – in a partnership that started in 2015 and was expanded in 2017 to a value of up to $650m.

Vividion has been advancing its own pipeline of protein degrader drugs, including one targeting a previously undrugged E3 ligase that will be presented at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) virtual annual meeting next month.

Its drug discovery platform also attracted a partnership from Celgene – now Bristol-Myers Squibb – which was signed in 2018 and included an upfront payment of $101m, focusing on “oncology, inflammatory and neurodegenerative indications.”

Last year, Vividion raised $82m in an oversubscribed second-round financing that was also backed by Celgene.

The company spun out of the Scripps Research Institute in the US in 2017, and its platform is based on research by Scripps scientist Professor Benjamin Cravatt that allows screening of small molecules against every protein in biological systems.

This is Roche’s second early-stage deal in a matter of weeks, coming after the drugmaker paid $190m upfront to tap into Arrakis’ expertise in small-molecule drugs that bind to RNA and prevent protein production.

Once again, that deal promises to unlock drug targets that have hitherto been considered undruggable.

Article by
Phil Taylor

21st May 2020

From: Research, Regulatory, Healthcare

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