Plexium nabs $102M for protein degradation work weeks after $500M Amgen tie-up

Just weeks after inking a $500 million biobucks pact with Amgen, protein degradation biotech Plexium has secured $102 million in venture capital funds. 

The preclinical biotech raised the funds to bankroll work on protein degraders for an immuno-oncology program, a breast cancer asset and a non-small cell lung cancer therapeutic. The San Diego startup has other undisclosed assets in its pipeline, including two from the Amgen tie-up.

The proceeds will support Plexium's cell-based screening technology to find new therapies across cancer and other diseases, the biotech said Wednesday. The startup is working on molecular glues and monovalent degraders, two appealing areas Novartis has highlighted as ripe for partnering opportunities.

Plexium will work with Amgen to bring two proteins together that induce degradation in cancer and other serious diseases. Under the deal, more programs can be added by Amgen.

RELATED: Amgen enters hot protein degradation field with $500M biobucks deal with Plexium

The financing and Amgen pact come just months after Plexium poached 16-year Astellas vet Percival Barretto-Ko as CEO and president in November. Barretto-Ko ended his career at Astellas as chief business officer.

Big Pharmas have lined up for protein degradation innovation in recent quarters through multiple licensing deals. Pfizer paid Arvinas $650 million upfront in July 2021; Eli Lilly could dish out $1.6 billion to Lycia for five targets; and Novartis is betting as much as $1.3 billion in milestones for Dunad Therapeutics. 

BVF Partners and TCG X led the Plexium financing. Softbank, RA Capital, Surveyor Capital and Pappas Capital became new backers of Plexium, while existing investors like Pivotal bioVenture, Lux Capital, M Ventures and others contributed again. Plexium previously topped out a $63 million series A in January 2021.