BMS Adds Potential $5B to Evotec Protein Degrader Partnership

Bristol Myers_Jeremy Moeller/Getty Images

Courtesy of Jeremy Moeller/Getty Images

Bristol Myers Squibb announced it is extending and expanding its strategic partnership with Evotec in targeted protein degradation. This marks the second protein degradation deal this month for BMS.

The two companies originally signed an agreement in 2018, with the initial collaboration proving to be highly productive in generating a promising pipeline of molecular glue degraders, which are small molecules that chemically degrade targeted disease-relevant proteins. Now, the companies have chosen to extend and expand the partnership for additional eight years to further broaden and deeper the alliance.

"Bristol Myers Squibb is the pioneer and industry leader in the field of molecular glue degraders. Molecular glues are one of the most exciting new modalities as they can be developed into highly selective and potent degraders of high-value therapeutic targets, even reaching molecular targets which have been deemed undruggable by conventional means," said Cord Dohrmann, CSO of Evotec in a press release. "We are extremely excited about the opportunity to significantly extend and expand our strategic partnership with Bristol Myers Squibb into 2030 and possibly beyond." 

Under the terms of the agreement, both companies will leverage Evotec’s proprietary EVO panOmics and EVO panHunter platforms, which work together to support Omics-driven precision medicine approaches. EVO panOmics involves the use of genomics, transcriptomes, proteomics and phenotypic data altogether, while EVO panHunter facilities the analysis of PanOmics data integrated with other metadata sets in a user-centered bioinformatics platform.

Evotec will receive an upfront payment of $200 million and is anticipated to receive performance-based, near-term and program-based milestone payments. The company stands to gain a possible $5 billion from the partnership, including additional tiered royalties on product sales.

In January, the partners expanded a neuroscience collaboration to include a new targeted protein degradation approach. As part of the expansion, BMS would increase its access to a novel targeted protein degradation approach focused on selected targets that are relevant to a range of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. At the time, Evotec stated that many neurodegenerative diseases are driven by disease-causing proteins that are elusive to traditional drug discovery approaches, making targeted protein degradation a new methodological avenue.

Last week, BMS and Merck both announced partnerships with Amphista Therapeutics for protein degradation therapies. BMS sought to leverage Amphista’s proprietary Eclipsys targeted protein degradation platform to develop novel protein degrading therapeutics. BMS paid Amphista $30 million upfront but did not release what indications the partnership would involve, although the larger company will be responsible for the development and commercialization of therapies developed.

So, what is so lucrative about targeted protein degradation therapies? Protein degradation is a core strength for BMS, with the company having launched several successful protein degrader agents that are in clinical trials. What makes degraders so fascinating as a potential therapeutic is that they can completely ablate a target protein’s functions, and because they don’t need an active binding site to work, they can attack and destabilize disease-causing proteins that have been previously hard to tackle.

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