Amgen, Carmot ink backloaded $240M Parkinson’s pact

Amgen has the option to select multiple targets and will assume full control of the programs in the clinic and beyond.

Amgen has struck a deal with Carmot Therapeutics worth a potential $240 million. The alliance tasks Carmot with using its lead-identification technology to provide Amgen with a stream of prospects against conditions including Parkinson’s disease.

In return for an upfront payment, research funding and milestones that could top out above $240 million, Amgen will get the chance to work with Carmot to select therapeutic targets and pick out drug candidates to move into human testing. Amgen has the option to select multiple targets and will assume full control of the programs in the clinic and beyond.

Carmot’s role comes earlier in the process. The Berkeley, California-based biotech is built on an iterative lead identification process that generates custom compound libraries for screening. Carmot is leveraging the technology internally to build a pipeline of diabetes and cancer candidates, in part by using it to convert peptides to small molecules. But it is best known for its collaborations.

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The startup has attracted the attention of two of its bigger, better known neighbors. Amgen formed its first drug discovery pact with Carmot in 2014 and two years later extended that two-target deal. Now it has turned to Carmot once again to support its efforts to treat diseases including Parkinson’s, an area in which its small-molecule skills could make a difference.

“We’re excited to expand Amgen’s relationship with Carmot to leverage its unique small molecule capabilities to address targets that traditionally have been very difficult to drug,” John Dunlop, vice president of neuroscience research at Amgen, said in a statement.

In between the two most recent deals with Amgen, Carmot unveiled a discovery collaboration with Genentech. That pact, like the Amgen alliances, saw a big biotech look to Carmot for help with lead identification.