Boehringer Ingelheim strikes $186M discovery deal with Ensemble

Ensemble Therapeutics has landed a new major pharma partner. German drug giant Boehringer Ingelheim has tapped the small Cambridge, MA, biotech outfit in a research alliance valued at up to $186 million before potential royalty payments.

The companies are collaborating on the discovery of drug candidates from Ensemble against several unspecified targets of Boehringer's choice. Ensemble is getting undisclosed upfront and research payments in the deal, according to its press release. Boehringer has exclusive rights to develop and commercialize molecules from the alliance.

Ensemble has rapidly grown its library of small molecules known as macrocycles from about 100,000 to roughly 5 million over the past four years, overcoming obstacles to generating the molecules in large numbers. The library gives the company and its pharma partners--which have included Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY), Genentech and Pfizer ($PFE)--an abundance of shots to hit drug targets of interest, particularly targets which have been tough to impact with other classes of compounds.

"This collaboration with Boehringer Ingelheim builds on Ensemble's business strategy to partner with leading pharmaceutical companies and further validates the wide-ranging potential of our Ensemblin drug discovery platforms while providing Ensemble with additional funding to advance our own internal pipeline," Michael Taylor, Ensemble's CEO, said in a statement.  

With a number of discovery deals in place, the 8-year-old company aims to see how well one of its novel small molecules works in humans. Ensemble is gearing up to advance its lead candidate, an antagonist of interleukin-17, into clinical development early next year, according to the company, which has attracted investments from Flagship Ventures, CMEA, Arch Venture Partners, Harris and Harris Group and Boston University.

- here's the release