Takeda pens Prometheus pact to find novel IBD targets

Takeda has formed an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) R&D pact with Prometheus Biosciences. The agreement tasks Prometheus with identifying and validating three IBD drug targets in return for up to $420 million in milestones.

Prometheus, formerly known as Precision IBD, has a repository of samples on about 20,000 IBD patients plus linked clinical and research data. Using the resource, Prometheus identifies subgroups of IBD patients and develops drugs to affect disease pathways most relevant to them. The company, which also develops diagnostics, bought Prometheus Laboratories from Nestlé Health Science in July.

The Takeda deal will make use of the breadth of Prometheus’ capabilities. As well as identifying and validating three IBD targets, Prometheus will develop and commercialize companion diagnostics for the resulting therapies.

In return, Prometheus will receive an upfront payment of undisclosed size plus up to $420 million in milestones. Takeda will handle all drug development and commercialization from discovery onward, resulting in an arrangement designed to tap into the companies respective strengths.

“We are excited to combine the Prometheus bioinformatics platform and advanced machine learning techniques with Takeda's expertise in drug development to deliver a new generation of IBD therapies," Prometheus CEO Mark McKenna said in a statement. McKenna joined Prometheus last month after spending the previous four years leading Salix Pharmaceuticals.

The collaboration opens up another front in Takeda’s IBD strategy. Takeda won FDA approval for its anti-α4β7-integrin therapy Entyvio in ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, the conditions covered by the umbrella term IBD, in 2014 and went on to pay Enterome $50 million to co-develop EB8018. The Enterome drug, a FimH antagonist, is in early-phase development in Crohn's disease.

Takeda also gained an experimental IBD drug, SHP647, in its $62 billion takeover of Shire. However, the overlap between SHP647 and Entyvio led European antitrust authorities to tell Takeda to offload the asset.