Amgen Strikes Nearly $2 Billion Deal for Protein Therapeutics

Amgen_Al Seib / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Al Seib / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Amgen and Generate Biomedicines inked a research partnership to discover and develop protein therapeutics for five clinical targets. Generate Bio is focused on leveraging machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to program novel protein therapies around generative biology.

Under the terms of the collaboration, Amgen is paying Generate $50 million upfront. The five programs have a potential transaction value of $1.9 billion plus future royalties. Amgen can also nominate up to five more programs at additional cost. Amgen will pony up to $370 million for each program in milestones and royalties up to low double digits. Amgen will take part in a future financing round for Generate.

In November 2021, Generate raised $370 million in a Series B financing. The round included its founder, Flagship Pioneering, as well as several institutional co-investors, including a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), the Alaska Permanent Fund, Altitude Life Science Ventures, ARCH Venture Partners, Fidelity Management & Research Company, Morningside Ventures, and funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates.

At the time, Mike Nally, Generate’s chief executive officer and CEO-partner of Flagship Pioneering, said, “Generate is deploying machine learning at scale to understand the genetic code underlying the function of proteins. We are pioneering the field of Generative Biology—a revolutionary approach to drug development that allows us to program novel protein therapeutics capable of performing almost any desired biological function.”

Amgen thinks so as well. Amgen’s three main research areas include inflammation, oncology, and cardiometabolism. In July 2021, Amgen acquired Teneobio for $900 million upfront and milestones that could add another $1.6 billion in cash to the deal. Teneobio develops bispecific and multispecific antibody technologies. That deal and the deal with Generate complement Amgen’s antibody capabilities and a heavy-chain-only platform that provides a streamlined, sequence-based discovery approach for target binders in addition to Teneobio’s T-cell engager platform.

Amgen is building a Digital Biologics Discovery group as part of this combination of wet lab high-throughput automation and dry lab computational biology. The goal now is to combine Amgen’s biologics drug discovery expertise with Generate Bio’s AI platform in hopes of helping identify and design multispecific antibodies more efficiently and effectively.

Dr. David M. Reese, executive vice president of Research and Development at Amgen, stated, “We are now at a scientific hinge point, where computational approaches can advance our knowledge of biology and further drive our ability to design the right molecule for some of the most challenging targets. We believe Generate Biomedicine’s integrated in silico design and wet lab capabilities combined with Amgen’s strength in protein engineering can accelerate our drug discovery efforts, generating novel protein sequences with optimal therapeutic properties.”

Nally clearly agrees, noting the deal is “a recognition of the transformative power of our generative biology platform. We are proud to partner strategically with Amgen to combine their world-leading expertise in engineering protein-based therapies with our unique machine learning-enabled drug generation platform.”

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