C4 hopes for booming partnership with Google’s secretive Calico

The deal between Calico and C4 Therapeutics will focus on cancer and aging

Fierce 15 winner C4 Therapeutics has become the latest biopharma to strike a deal with the Google-backed life sciences company Calico, although true to its quiet nature few details about the pact have emerged.

Speaking to FierceBiotech, however, C4 said the five-year deal with be aimed at: “Treating diseases of aging, including cancer,” but would not be “disclosing details of the targets we’ll be jointly exploring.”

Calico doesn’t like to talk much in public about its projects, but we know it has a focus on aging given that its (rather sparse) website has named its mission as wanting to: “Harness advanced technologies to increase our understanding of the biology that controls lifespan.”

The life sciences co has signed a number of pacts in recent years since its founding, including with UC San Francisco for its tech out from the lab of professor Peter Walter, which is focused on modulators of integrated stress response, which is a wide-range of molecular changes that take place within a cell when it’s exposed to environmental hazards.

The Bay Area biotech, run by Genentech, Apple and Google vet Art Levinson Ph.D., has also struck a two-pronged deal with California’s QB3 to explore the science of longevity and age-related diseases, and teamed up with Harvard and MIT’s Broad Institute to collaborate on discovery-stage research. It’s working with AbbVie on an R&D project that could cost as much as $1.5 billion.

With C4, Calico will gain access to its preclinical work in targeted protein degradation; the pact, financial details of which were not shared, will see the two discover and advance small molecule protein degraders as therapeutic agents to remove certain disease-causing proteins.

The partnership will be based on early, preclinical research, although Calico will be responsible for any and all clinical development and commercialization of any meds coming out of the collaboration.

C4’s exec team tells me that the deal “marries C4T’s drug discovery capabilities in chemistry, biochemistry, ubiquitin proteasome system biology, and pharmacology and Calico’s expertise.”

The research will be conducted at both C4T’s labs in Cambridge, MA as well as at Calico’s South San Francisco, CA labs. “The plan is to collaborate closely between our two companies,” the company tells me.

Not yet in the clinic, C4 has said before that it envisions first human testing using its tech as early as 2018, with activated cell therapy and immuno-oncology slated to be in the mix for these trials in the not-too-distant future.

C4 is one of only a handful of companies working on tackling protein degradation (others include Celgene and Arvinas) using small-molecule binders, dubbed degronimids, that can target, destroy and clear proteins through the ubiquitin/proteasome system.

The team and biotech came together at the start of last year with a $75 million investment, as well as a deal from Roche, that could also be worth $750 million in biobucks.

In terms of other deals and financing rounds, the biotech says it “remains in a position to seek partnerships where we see alignment with our goals to advance targeted protein degradation to address unmet medical needs.”

It added: “While we have no particular timing in mind, we remain interested and engaged in conversation with groups/companies aligned with this goal.”