Arvinas Strikes $434 Million Collaboration with Merck & Co. to Continue Thriving in Connecticut

Published: Apr 08, 2015

Arvinas Strikes $434M Collaboration with Merck to Continue Thriving in Connecticut
April 7, 2015
By Krystle Vermes, Breaking News Staff

Connecticut-based Arvinas LLC, a biotechnology company that focuses on protein degradation, announced a strategic collaboration with Merck & Co. on April 7, which will use PROTAC technology. Arvinas, which created PROTAC, claims that it will be utilized to degrade proteins to create novel therapeutics.

Merck could elect to expand the collaboration to include additional disease targets, and Arvinas is set to receive up to $434 million if all research, development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments are made.

"We look forward to working with Merck to create novel drugs to address difficult targets, and we believe this alliance will maximize the value of Arvinas' very exciting and innovative protein degradation technology," said Manuel Litchman, president and chief executive officer of Arvinas.

PROTACS, also known as proteolysis-targeting chimeras, are bifunctional small molecules that target proteins for degradation and removal from a cell. Traditional drug development methods can also designed to inhibit proteins, but they can only target 25 percent of the proteins within the body. PROTACS is meant to go beyond this number and address proteins that may be contributing to rare diseases.

Arvinas, which is based in New Haven, Conn., is focused on treating a wide range of conditions including cancer, pro-inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.

Finding a Place to Thrive
Arvinas’ PROTACS was built around technology by Yale University Professor Craig Crews, who teaches chemistry and pharmacology at the school. The startup was fortunate enough to acquire space at 5 Science Park in New Haven, which gave it 10,000 square feet and a 9,000-square-foot laboratory space.

The company initially received $15 million in Series A funding from local and outside investors, including Canaan and 5AM Ventures. Tim Shannon, venture partner in Canaan Partners, was impressed by the talent in New Haven, Conn.

“We have abundant talent in Connecticut and there is great merit in keeping this close to Craig and Yale,” Shannon stated at the time. “There is no reason to leave the area.”

Today, Arvinas continues to thrive on Connecticut, and the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development offered $2.5 million in loan financing to keep it local.

“Our economic development team worked aggressively to keep this company—and this technology—in Connecticut,” said Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy. “Not only does the company represent great promise for the future of health care, but it will bring new jobs and expand New Haven’s growing pharmaceutical presence.”

BioSpace Temperature Poll
After last week's news that Gilead had issued a health advisory to doctors, concern is growing after nine patients taking Harvoni or Sovaldi along with another drug, amiodarone, were treated for abnormally slow heartbeats. One of the patients died of cardiac arrest. Three of the nine patients required a pacemaker. That has BioSpace asking, what next?

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