Four New Collaborations to Move the World of Drug R&D


Collaborations are part of the lifeblood of the pharmaceutical industry. As 2022 gets underway, multiple companies have already announced partnerships that will advance the potential for new medications in various disease indications. And that trend continues today with more collaborative deals.

Alnylam and Novartis Pair Up

Two industry giants, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals and Novartis have paired up in an RNA pact. The companies aim to leverage Alnylam’s siRNA technology in liver disease. The collaboration will used siRNA to inhibit a target discovered by Novartis, which could lead to the regrowth of functional liver cells. And that could provide an alternative to liver transplants in patients experiencing organ failure.

Currently, a liver transplant is the only treatment for end-stage liver disease. A significant need exists for medicinal alternatives to transplants that “regenerate liver tissue and restore the essential metabolic and synthetic processes that are managed by the liver,” the companies said.

Under terms of the three-year research collaboration, Alnylam will develop and test potential siRNAs that use target-specific assays developed by the Swiss pharma giants. Novartis will take over development and clinical research when a lead candidate is identified. 

Jay Bradner, president of the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, said the partnership with Alnylam builds on a “legacy of leadership in regenerative medicine.” With siRNA technology, the goal is to deliver a transformative benefit to patients with liver failure. 

2seventy and Novo Nordisk Partner in Gene Therapy

2seventy bio and Novo Nordisk entered a licensing agreement for the development of an in vivo gene editing treatment for hemophilia A. Novo Nordisk has the option to license 2seventy bio’s proprietary mRNA-based megaTAL technology. They intend to harness the megaTAL technology to develop a new approach for hemophilia A patients. The goal is to create a treatment that offers a sustained therapeutic effect.

2seventy bio’s megaTAL technology has the potential to provide a highly specific and efficient way to “silence, edit, or insert genetic components.” Hemophilia A is a genetic bleeding disorder that results from defective Factor VIII. 

The partnership between the two companies builds on previous hemophilia research conducted by Novo Nordisk and bluebird bio.  

Under the terms of the agreement, 2seventy bio will receive an upfront payment of $5 million. The company is also eligible for milestone payments as well as a royalty on net sales. Novo Nordisk will be responsible for funding all research and development activities.

Sosei and Verily Partner to Develop Drug candidates against GPCR targets

Japan’s Sosei Group Corporation and Alphabet’s Verily forged a strategic collaboration to advance the understanding of GPCR biology in immune cells and develop therapies against these targets. The agreement combines the complementary capabilities of Verily’s immune profiling and Sosei Heptares’ G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCR) structure-based drug design.

The two companies intend to better understand GPCR biology for uses in immunology, gastroenterology, immuno-oncology and other disorders with immunoprotective or immunopathogenic mechanisms. Through the use of Sosei’s StaR (stabilized receptor) platform, the companies aim to create lead molecules for further development or out-licensing.

The financial terms of the collaboration were not disclosed.

Janssen and TRexBio Team Up on Immune-Mediated Diseases

Janssen Pharmaceutical, a Janssen company, and TRexBio, Inc. forged a multi-year research and licensing collaboration for the discovery of novel tissue-targeted therapeutics that harness the capabilities of TRexBio’s proprietary Deep Biology platform.

Currently, TRexBio uses its platform to produce insights into human tissue immune-regulation. From there, the company can identify novel targets for therapeutics with a focus on modulating regulatory T cell (Treg) response. The two companies will use the TRexBio platform to discover novel targets that aim to address unmet needs in immune-mediated disease. Janssen will be responsible for the clinical development and commercialization of therapeutics that result from the collaboration.

Details of the financial terms were not disclosed. TRex said Janssen will provide the company with an upfront payment, option fees, milestones and royalties.

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