Bayer inks Arvinas deal to develop protein degraders

Bayer is paying Arvinas $17.5 million (€15.5 million) upfront to develop protein-degrading treatments for cardiovascular, oncological and gynecological diseases. The partners will apply Arvinas’ targeted protein degrader technology to targets selected by Bayer.

Arvinas moved the first targeted protein degrader into human testing earlier this year, beating rival biotechs and Big Pharmas including C4 Therapeutics, Kymera Therapeutics, Merck and Novartis to that milestone. The number of companies pursuing Arvinas reflects excitement about the potential to use cellular machinery to degrade disease-causing proteins rather than simply block their activity.

Bayer is the latest company to commit money to the idea. The German pharma is paying Arvinas $17.5 million upfront and making a $32.5 million investment for the chance to collaborate on protein degraders. The money extends Arvinas’ cash runway from the first half of 2021 to the second half of the same year. 

Using $12 million in research funding from Bayer, Arvinas will spend the next four years working on targets picked by its new partner. The targets will span cardiovascular, oncological and gynecological diseases. Arvinas has focused its internal efforts on oncological indications, only venturing beyond cancer through two discovery-stage programs targeting Alzheimer's and Parkinson’s. 

As the partnered programs advance, Bayer is on the hook for up to $197.5 million in development milestones, plus up to $490 million in sales-based fees if they make it to market. Bayer has also committed $56 million to a joint venture that will apply Arvinas’ technology to agriculture. 

“With our unique position as a leading company in both Crop Science and Pharmaceuticals, we see a great opportunity to partner with the pioneer of the PROTAC technology, to advance this technology as quickly as possible to deliver future solutions for sustainable agriculture and innovative medicines for patients,” Kemal Malik, Bayer board member for innovation, said in a statement.