You wait months for a molecular glue degrader licensing deal, and then two come along at once. At the same moment that Merck & Co. revealed it’s signed up to explore the modality with Austria’s Proxygen, a similar announcement has been made by Incyte.
The drug developer has paid out $7 million upfront to BioTheryx, with potentially $6 million to follow in R&D funding and up to $347 million in milestone payments. In return, Incyte gets to use BioTheryx’s PRODEGY platform to identify and initially develop molecular glue degraders for “multiple historically undruggable oncology targets,” according to this morning’s release.
Incyte will be responsible for the further development and eventual commercialization of any degraders discovered via the platform. There is also the possibility that the collaboration can be expanded.
Molecular glues are small molecules used to stabilize the interaction between two proteins that don’t typically interact. Announcing today’s deal, Incyte Chief Scientific Officer Dashyant Dhanak, Ph.D., described protein degradation as “one of the most promising modalities in oncology.”
BioTheryx's pipeline includes lead candidate BTX-1188, a dual target protein degrader of the neosubstrate G1 to S phase transition 1 (GSPT1) and zinc finger transcription factor IKZF1/3 that’s in a phase 1 trial for patients with advanced hematologic and solid tumor malignancies. In preclinical development are a number of bifunctional degraders, the most of advanced of which is BTX-9341, a degrader of cyclin-dependent kinase 4 (CDK4) and cyclin-dependent kinase 6 (CDK6) that’s also being lined up to test on solid tumors.
Incyte’s announcement dropped the same morning that Merck signed on to pay Proxygen up to $2.55 billion in biobucks to jointly identify and develop molecular glue degraders against multiple therapeutic targets. Today’s simultaneous announcements come five months after Bristol Myers Squibb partnered with SyntheX to discover, develop and commercialize new small-molecule degraders using the San Francisco biotech’s ToRNeDO platform.