Bicycle Rides Genentech Partnership to Another Immuno-Oncology Milestone

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Genentech has exercised its second option agreement to launch a new program with Bicycle Therapeutics, triggering a $10 million payment toward the latter and expanding on an existing deal that hopes to create new Bicycle-based immuno-oncology (IO) treatments. 

In the original agreement, which could be worth up to $1.7 billion provided that all milestones are achieved, Bicycle received $30 million upfront to give Genentech access to its proprietary bicyclic peptides platform to address a range of immuno-oncology targets. Under the terms of the agreement, Bicycle would receive $10 million every time Genentech decides to exercise an option.

"Bicycles"a novel class of medicines being developed by Bicycle, are fully synthetic short peptides constrained with small molecule scaffolds to create two loops to stabilize their structure. This constraint facilitates high-affinity and selective target binding, making bicycles viable candidates for oncology drug development.   

Neither firm provided details about the collaboration and did not specify the oncology projects they are working on. Bicycle's pipeline describes three anti-tumor programs in pre-clinical and clinical development, including its lead candidate BT1718, which targets MT1-MMP, and some "undisclosed IO programs" attributed to the Genentech deal. 

"Bicycles represent a novel therapeutic modality and have shown promise as modulators of several types of tumor-killing immune cells," James Sabry, the head of pharma partnering at Roche commented in an earlier press release. Roche is the parent firm of Genentech.

"By leveraging Genentech's deep understanding of cancer immunology and Bicycle's technological expertise, we hope to create a new wave of immunotherapy options to expand the population of patients who could potentially benefit from this powerful treatment paradigm," Sabry added.

The first option, exercised in October 2021, came with a $10 million payment to Bicycle. It was stated, however, that none of the compounds in Bicycle's oncology pipeline, including the immuno-oncology candidates, were included. The second option, which was recently announced, states the same and remains vague about project details.

Bicycle will be responsible for discovery research and early pre-clinical development up to candidate selection. After the drug candidates are chosen, Genentech will step in for further development and commercialization. 

"We are pleased both with the ongoing progress in our collaboration with the preeminent immuno-oncology team at Genentech, and that Genentech has once again elected to exercise an option to add a new program. We look forward to our continued collaboration to develop potential new cancer treatments based on Bicycles," Kevin Lee, Ph.D., the chief executive officer of Bicycle Therapeutics said. 

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