Remix Therapeutics—and its RNA reprogramming technology designed to produce small-molecule therapies—has caught the attention of J&J's Janssen Pharmaceuticals, with the two agreeing to a licensing deal that could exceed $1 billion.
It’s a deal short on details but high on potential, with only $45 million being provided upfront for research funding. The more than $950 million that remains is contingent on Remix’s therapies reaching a variety of clinical and commercial milestones.
The company’s platform uses RNA processing to tweak and fine-tune the molecular machines behind gene expression. The hope is that by doing so successfully, they can develop therapies aimed at diseases where this technology would have the most impact.
The licensing deal commits Remix to developing three targets applicable to immunology and oncology for Janssen, but, in an interview with Fierce Biotech, Remix CEO Peter Smith, Ph.D., said the company is focused on neurology as well.
Smith wouldn’t specify which targets the two companies were planning to attack but described them as ones that need “new treatment approaches.”
“I think what got Janssen excited about working with us is a way to tackle targets that they’re very interested in and we think we can go after,” he said.
And although the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company has yet to disclose specifics about its own pipeline, Smith said the additional cash stream provided by the deal—combined with an earlier seed round from 2020 that totaled $81 million—provides enough capital to advance multiple programs into clinic.
More details about Remix’s road map are expected later this year. When asked whether the agreement would force the company to prioritize the targets committed to Janssen over their internal pipeless, Smith said it would not.
“We didn’t want to do something too big that would kind of swamp the internal efforts,” he said. “We have the bandwidth to execute on both fronts.”
Smith says Remix received interest from a number of different companies before agreeing to team up with Janssen, and, while he wouldn’t close the door on future collaborations, the focus in the near term is on fostering its relationship with the pharma.
Remix will also have the opportunity to opt in to one of the targets it develops for Janssen later in the clinical process, which would require fronting more of the cost of clinical development in return for higher royalty payments.