Arvinas in $830M-plus Pfizer biobucks deal

Pfizer HQ
By Norbert Nagel, Mörfelden-Walldorf, Germany (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Yale spinout and 2015 Fierce 15 company Arvinas, a biotech working on small-molecule protein degradation therapies, has penned a deal potentially worth $830 million, and more besides, with Big Pharma Pfizer.

The pact centers on the discovery and development of PROTACs (proteolysis targeting chimeras) across multiple disease areas.

PROTAC is an emerging form of tech designed to create small-molecule therapeutics aimed at degrading disease-causing cellular proteins. PROTACs, which grew out of the work of Craig Crews’ lab at Yale University, are small molecules designed to activate the body’s system for clearing up proteins.

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RELATED: FierceBiotech's 2015 Fierce 15Arvinas

That mechanism opens the door to therapeutic attacks on a wide range of proteins, including those that have proven tough to drug using traditional small-molecule inhibitors. Arvinas’ in-house work has prioritized the use of the technology to treat cancers. But the destruction of troublesome proteins has applications in fields well beyond oncology, including neuroscience.

Pfizer has put $830 million on the table, which includes an undisclosed upfront payment, although most of that figure will likely be back-loaded through milestones; should any drugs get approved down the line, royalties will also be coming the biotech’s way. The cash will help Arvinas advance its own pipeline toward the clinic, with a first trial expected to start later in the year.

This also comes after Arvinas recently doubled the size of its collaboration with Roche’s Genentech, which also focuses on PROTAC, rounding off a good few months for the company.

RELATED: Genentech doubles down on Arvinas, swelling deal to $650M

Protein degradation is becoming a bigger deal among several smaller biotechs. Fellow Fierce 15 company C4 Therapeutics is tackling protein degradation using small-molecule binders, dubbed degronimids, that can target, destroy and clear proteins through the ubiquitin/proteasome system.

The Arvinas-Pfizer deal is a multiyear pact that covers the discovery and development of potential PROTAC clinical candidates designed to degrade several key disease-causing proteins in “multiple therapeutic areas.”

Arvinas will drive discovery efforts, while Pfizer will be on the hook for clinical development and the sale of any products out of the collab, the pair said in a statement.

“As a global industry leader, Pfizer is uniquely positioned to partner with us as we exploit the potential of PROTACs in multiple disease areas,” said John Houston, Ph.D., president and CEO of Arvinas. “This marks another key milestone as we continue to expand the use of our targeted protein degradation platform and advance Arvinas’ first candidates into the clinic.”

“Protein degradation is an area of considerable interest for us, and we look forward to working with Arvinas to determine the potential applicability of this approach across multiple therapeutic areas,” added John Ludwig, Ph.D., head of medicinal sciences at Pfizer.