Genentech sees more potential in peptides, signs $1B biobucks deal with PeptiDream

PeptiDream is clearly doing something right. Big Pharmas have been queueing round the block to collaborate on the Japanese biotech’s peptide discovery platform, and, now, long-term partner Genentech is back with $40 million in upfront cash for a fresh licensing agreement.

PeptiDream’s system is designed to identify peptides that can serve as the targeting mechanism for therapies. Once conjugated, the peptides take payloads to their targets to potentially deliver a potent hit without intolerable toxicity.

Roche’s Genentech unit first saw potential in PeptiDream’s work when the U.S.-based subsidiary signed a deal to identify peptides against multiple targets back in 2015. The following year, Genentech bagged a nonexclusive license for PeptiDream’s Peptide Discovery Platform System and then expanded on their collaboration in 2018.

Now, Genentech is back for another agreement spanning multiple targets of interest to the Roche unit. While their previous collaboration focused on macrocyclic/constrained peptides, this time PeptiDream will develop radioisotope-peptide conjugates. The aim will be to use novel peptide binders to ensure the targeted delivery of radioisotopes.

The Tokyo-based company will take the lead on preclinical development before handing over the radiopharmaceutical candidates to Genentech for further development and commercialization. PeptiDream will retain the right to develop and commercialize the drugs in Japan, with the potential to receive up to $1 billion in milestone payments and a slice of the royalties from Genentech’s sales in the rest of the world.

“PeptiDream is a global leader in the discovery and development of peptide-RI conjugates, and through our PDRadiopharma, is one of the leading radiopharmaceutical companies in Japan,” PeptiDream CEO Patrick Reid, Ph.D., said in the Sept. 19 release. “Combining this expertise with Genentech’s powerful clinical development and commercialization capabilities, we hope to bring innovative first-in-class peptide radiopharmaceuticals to patients worldwide.”

It’s not the first time PeptiDream has partnered up on peptide-radioisotope conjugates, with a collaboration with RayzeBio producing two tumor-targeting candidates to date.

Most of PeptiDream’s big name collaborations have focused on other forms of peptide-drug conjugates, with Merck & Co. signing off on over $2 billion in biobucks for peptide candidates for conjugation to cytotoxic payloads in January. On the same day, Eli Lilly confirmed its own $1 billion milestone agreement with the Japanese company focused on high affinity macrocyclic peptide ligands. Both companies had previously worked with PeptiDream.