Epizyme and Celgene International Sàrl, a subsidiary of Celgene Corporation (NASDAQ: CELG) today announced the formation of a strategic partnership to discover, develop and commercialize personalized therapeutics for patients with genetically-defined cancers by inhibiting histone methyltransferases (HMTs), an important epigenetic target class.
Under the terms of the agreement, Celgene receives the exclusive option to license ex-US rights to Epizyme’s available HMT inhibitor programs during an initial three-year period and has the right to extend this option period for one year with additional funding. Epizyme and Celgene will work jointly to discover and develop HMT inhibitors and will co-fund global development of the collaboration programs.
The collaboration leverages the transformational science of Epizyme’s HMT inhibitor platform and includes Epizyme’s DOT1L HMT inhibitor program, to which Celgene licenses the ex-US rights at signing. DOT1L is an oncogenic driver gene in a subtype of acute leukemias called Mixed Lineage Leukemia (MLL). The DOT1L program is currently in pre-clinical development.
Epizyme retains all US rights to the collaboration programs and receives a $90 million upfront payment, which includes an equity investment. For each HMT inhibitor that Celgene licenses, Epizyme is eligible to earn more than $160 million in milestone payments and up to double-digit royalties on ex-US sales.
“Celgene is a leader in epigenetic therapies for cancer through our existing drugs, and continues to focus on delivering new drugs with high therapeutic impact in this area,” said Thomas Daniel, M.D., President of Research for Celgene. “Epizyme's platform, scientific leadership in histone methyltransferases and leading position on promising HMT targets offers an exciting complementary approach. Our collaboration with Epizyme is a key element of our strategy to develop new and innovative therapeutic paradigms.”
“Our Celgene partnership is a transformational step in Epizyme’s growth and is made possible by Celgene’s vision and commitment to patients,” said Robert Gould, Ph.D., CEO and President of Epizyme. “Through this collaboration, Epizyme gains access to Celgene’s leading drug development resources, enabling us to substantially increase the breadth and depth of our efforts while retaining US rights to our pipeline of personalized therapeutics.”
The HMT class of epigenetic enzymes contains 96 members, many of which have strong genetic associations with cancer and other serious diseases. Targeting HMTs with potent and selective small molecule inhibitors offers an innovative therapeutic approach to controlling pathways of disease-causing gene expression.
Epizyme is leading the discovery and development of small molecule histone methyltransferase (HMT) inhibitors, a new class of personalized therapeutics for the treatment of patients with genetically-defined cancers, based on breakthroughs in the field of epigenetics. Genetic alterations in the HMTs are strongly associated with the underlying causes of multiple human diseases, including cancer. Epizyme’s patient-driven approach represents the future of personalized therapeutics by creating better medicines for the right patients more quickly and at lower cost than traditional approaches. www.epizyme.com
About Celgene International Sàrl
Celgene International Sàrl, located in Boudry, in the Canton of Neuchâtel, Switzerland, is a wholly owned subsidiary and international headquarters of Celgene Corporation. Celgene Corporation, headquartered in Summit, New Jersey, is an integrated global pharmaceutical company engaged primarily in the discovery, development and commercialization of innovative therapies for the treatment of cancer and inflammatory diseases through gene and protein regulation. For more information, please visit the Company's website at www.celgene.com.
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