Blacksmith returns to Forge as companies remerge to hammer out metalloenzyme medicines

It’s back to the workshop for Blacksmith Medicines as it melds with originating company Forge Therapeutics to produce a metalloenzymes-focused biotech that will initially hammer out therapies for cancer and infections.

Blacksmith launched at the start of 2021 as a spinout of Forge, securing seed funding and a $300 million biobucks collaboration with Eli Lilly. While Forge may be the originator, it sounds like Blacksmith will play a leading role in the newly merged entity, which was described as “the new Blacksmith” in yesterday’s release.

Forge’s primary remit had been to find novel antibiotics targeting bacterial metal-dependent enzymes to combat the rise of drug resistance, while the spun-out Blacksmith was tasked with using similar technology to target immuno-oncology and inflammatory diseases. The "new Blacksmith" will now focus on oncology and infections, according to the Jan. 2 release.

Forge’s antibiotics focus had seen the company sign collaborations with Evotec, Basilea and Roche in recent years. In yesterday’s release, Blacksmith said those collaborations not only validated its own metalloenzyme platform but have the potential to bring in more than a combined $800 million in milestone payments on top of royalties for the merged company.

Over 30% of all known enzymes are metalloenzymes, and they feature among all the major enzyme classes, the biotech pointed out. Blacksmith’s platform is designed to address the typically difficult-to-drug target.

"Our target strategy is to focus on metalloenzymes of significant unmet need and high pharma interest, targets with validated biology that have been challenging to drug due to chemistry limitations that we can solve with our platform," Blacksmith CEO Zachary Zimmerman, Ph.D., said in the release.