PeptiDream has once again turned small molecules into big business, signing a new discovery agreement with Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies that could be worth up to $1.15 billion.
The deal includes an upfront payment and research funding, along with preclinical, clinical, and commercialization milestones and royalties. A financial breakdown of the terms was not provided in Friday’s media release.
At the heart of the deal is PeptiDream’s Peptide Discovery Platform System (PDPS), a next-generation tool for finding and optimizing macrocyclics and constrained peptides. It’s a burgeoning scientific approach, which aims to overcome the limitations of both small and large molecule therapies.
Unlike large molecules, macrocyclics and constrained peptides can be packaged into an oral medicine. But they’re bigger than standard peptides, allowing them to cross the cell membrane and reach intracellular targets. The larger mass also increases the specificity of the molecular binding, creating a safety and tolerability profile akin to that of biologics.
Through the partnership, Janssen wants to identify modified peptides and small molecules with these properties, to drug specific metabolic and cardiovascular targets. The New Jersey-based company then has the rights to develop and commercialize the candidates found.
PeptiDream’s 19-strong peptide-drug conjugate (PDC) pipeline also appears to have piqued Janssen’s interest. The company negotiated an exercisable option for future use and application of promising PDCs.
For all its current programs, PeptiDream has just one candidate that has advanced into Phase 1 clinical trials. That compound is being developed for an immuno-oncology application through a partnership with Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS).
BMS is one of four major biopharma partners that have licensed the PDPS discovery platform for broad internal use. The others include Novartis, Eli Lilly, and Genentech. All told, PeptiDream has sealed 16 industry partnerships in the past seven years — all of which remain in action.
There’s a lot to be said for a solid platform approach.
Timing has also likely played a part. Macrocyclic and constrained peptides are undergoing a renaissance as new tools for their modification become available. Previously undruggable targets are opening up and the resulting drugs can be tailored for efficacy.
In a prepared statement, Kiichi Kubota, CEO and president of PeptiDream, said his company was ready to begin translating its discoveries into potential drugs.
“Over the past few years PeptiDream has greatly expanded our ability to turn PDPS-identified peptide candidates into peptide therapeutics, small molecule drugs, and peptide drug conjugates (PDCs), and we greatly look forward to working with a world-renowned organization like Janssen to leverage these capabilities to discover and development the next generation of first-in-class and best-in-class therapeutics.”
By Juliet Preston, Apr 10, 2017