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

Genentech has doubled the size of its alliance with Arvinas, moving the potential value of the pact up above $650 million. The expansion of the deal gives the Roche subsidiary the chance to use Arvinas’ protein degradation technology against additional disease targets. 

Arvinas first landed a deal with Genentech two years ago, at which time more than $300 million in milestones were up for grabs. That deal covered multiple disease targets. But Genentech has now decided it wants to use Arvinas’ technology even more broadly, prompting it to return to the deal table to secure the right to work on more targets.

Genentech’s interest in Arvinas centers on a technology dubbed PROTAC, an abbreviation of proteolysis targeting chimeras. PROTACs, which grew out of the work of Dr. Craig Crews’ lab at Yale University, are small molecules designed to activate the body’s system for clearing up proteins.  

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.

Neither of the statements about the Genentech deals discloses how it is using the technology.

RELATED: Merck wagers $434M on Arvinas and its protein-disposal system

Arvinas landed the original deal with Genentech during a 12-month period in which it established itself as a biotech to watch. Over the course of 2015, Arvinas formed pacts with Genentech and Merck worth up to $734 million, unveiled former-Novartis’ SVP Manuel Litchman, M.D., as its CEO and wrapped up a $41.6 million series B round.

Litchman subsequently moved on to Mustang Bio, leading Arvinas to promote ex-Bristol-Myers Squibb SVP John Houston, Ph.D., from CSO to the top job. 

Under both leaders, Arvinas has worked on the Genentech and Merck pacts in parallel to its own pipeline, which recently produced an oral androgen receptor degrader candidate. Arvinas plans to move the drug, ARV-110, into the clinic in patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer in the second half of next year.