Biotech Giant Amgen Forges $410 Million R&D Pact With Tiny Nuevolution

Published: Oct 05, 2016

Biotech Giant Amgen Forges $410 Million R&D Pact with Tiny Nuevolution October 4, 2016
By Mark Terry, Breaking News Staff

Thousand Oaks, California-based Amgen signed a research collaboration deal with Copenhagen, Denmark’s Nuevolution AB. The two companies will collaborate to develop and commercialize drugs in oncology and neuroscience with multiple targets.

Nuevolution will utilize its Chemetics drug discovery platform to identify and advance potential compounds of interest to Amgen. Amgen has an exclusive option to acquire rights to any successful programs. Nuevolution can receive licensing fees and milestone payments up to $410 million (US) for each target. It will also be eligible for royalties.

Chemetics allows DNA encoded synthesis of literally billions of chemically diverse drug-like small molecule compounds. Via efficient screening and optimization, the company can more quickly identify drug candidates.

Nuevolution will handle early research. Amgen will work with Nuevolution during late-stage research, and be completely responsible for preclinical development, clinical development and global commercialization.

“We are excited about entering into this broad collaboration with Amgen,” said Alex Gouliaev, Neuvolutions’ chief executive officer, in a statement. “The agreement with Amgen represents an important business component for Nuevolution in its ambition to discover and develop new medicines for severe diseases, while also capitalizing on Neuvolution’s powerful drug discovery engine. We are looking forward to an excellent working relationship with Amgen’s dedicated research and development teams.”

Nuevolution’s lead pipeline candidate is a retinoic acid receptor-related orphan receptor gamma t inhibitor. The company indicates it has shown promise in several inflammatory disease models in animals, including rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and psoriasis. Nuevolution has said that it hopes to make an Investigational New Drug (IND) filing at the end of this year or early 2017, with hopes of beginning a Phase I trial in 2017.

Nuevolution also has partnership agreements with Boehringer Ingelheim, GlaxoSmithKline , Johnson & Johnson , Merck & Co. and Novartis .

On September 29, Amgen inked two license and collaboration agreements with Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals to develop and commercialize RNA interference (RNAi) treatments for cardiovascular disease. Those programs will use Arrowhead’s subcutaneous RNAi delivery platform.

Amgen receives a worldwide license to Arrowhead’s RNAi ARC-LPA program, which is designed to cut elevated lipoprotein(a), a risk factor for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.

Under the second deal, Amgen has an option to a global, exclusive license for an RNAi therapy for an undisclosed genetically validated cardiovascular target.

Amgen is paying Arrowhead $35 million upfront, $21.5 million in an equity investment, and up to $617 million in option payments, as well as various milestone payments. Arrowhead will also be eligible for single-digit royalties for the undisclosed target and up to low double-digit royalties for the ARC-LPA deal.

“Arrowhead’s expertise in RNAi makes them a valuable partner as we translate genetic discoveries into potential therapies that can improve health outcomes for patients,” said Sean Harper, Amgen’s executive vice president of Research and Development, in a statement. “This collaboration builds upon our commitment to cardiovascular disease with targets that we believe are uniquely suited for RNAi-based therapy.”

In terms of the Nuevolution deal, Alexander Kamb, Amgen’s senior vice president of Discovery Research, said in a statement, “Amgen is pleased to enter this agreement with Nuevolution to leverage their platform to identify small molecule compounds for targets that are difficult to drug using conventional methods. DNA-encoded screening platforms such as Nuevolution’s allows for rapid screening of billions of compounds to help bring important therapies to the clinic faster and with increased precision.”

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