Takeda gets crafty with $1.2B biobucks deal to create molecular glues with Degron

Takeda has taken a trip all the way to Shanghai to find just the right kind of glue to stick together a $1.2 billion biobucks deal for new candidates in oncology, neuroscience and inflammation.

Molecular glue biotech Degron Therapeutics is the target of the deal, which includes an undisclosed upfront payment, equity investment and milestones. Degron will also be eligible for royalties and a cut of sales down the road.

The two companies will work on molecular glue degraders for multiple targets in the three disease areas. The collaboration will utilize Degron’s GlueXplorer platform to find the new glues for therapeutics targets selected by Takeda. Degron will guide this early work before Takeda takes over.

Degron has already developed an in-house pipeline of molecular glue drugs, including five in oncology. The furthest along is an undisclosed RNA binding protein in preclinical development for multiple cancer indications, according to the company’s pipeline. The rest of the programs remain in lead optimization. Elsewhere, the biotech has discovery programs in inflammation and metabolic disease as well as rare disease.

“This collaboration with Degron not only adds an innovative new platform to our drug discovery toolbox, it is also an example of cutting-edge innovation emerging in the exciting China biotech sector,” said Takeda’s Chris Arendt, Ph.D., chief scientific officer and head of research.

Degron emerged in 2021 from the lab of ShanghaiTech University professor and company co-founder Yong Cang, Ph.D. The biotech has raised $34.5 million in capital so far.

Takeda is the latest pharma to throw down big bucks—at least in the form of massive milestone potential—to secure a crack at molecular glues. Novo Nordisk signed a deal with Neomorph in February worth a potential $1.46 billion to develop molecular glue degraders. And, in September 2023, Genentech plunked down $47 million upfront plus $2 billion in milestones for Orionis Biosciences to use its Allo-Glue platform to discover and optimize molecular glues for targets.