Epizyme snags $206M epigenetics deal with Eisai

Just weeks after GlaxoSmithKline committed up to $650 million in its epigenetics pact with Cambridge, MA-based Epizyme, Japan's Eisai has hopped on board the promising discovery platform with a $206 million collaboration of its own. Like most discovery deals, it starts small--with a $6 million upfront payment--while holding out $200 million at the back end as the two companies target EZH2, an epigenetic enzyme, for the treatment of lymphoma and other cancers in genetically-defined patients.

"Eisai is committed to bringing epigenetic therapeutics to cancer patients," said Takashi Owa, Ph.D., President, Oncology Product Creation Unit, Eisai Product Creation Systems. "Epizyme's proprietary product platform; leadership in determining the oncogenic role of EZH2 in genetically-defined cancers; and success in discovering novel, potent and selective small molecule inhibitors of histone methyltransferases (HMTs), an important epigenetic target class, led us to them as the partner of choice in epigenetic drug discovery." Eisai will fund 100 percent of R&D through human proof-of-concept, at which point Epizyme has the right to opt into a profit share and co-commercialization arrangement for the United States.

Robert Gould, Ph.D., the CEO of Epizyme, added that the "U.S. profit share and co-commercialization option is a key element of our strategy to discover, develop and also to commercialize epigenetic medicines."

- see the Epizyme release