Nine-Person Gencia Inks $500 Million Collaboration Deal with Takeda

Published: Sep 11, 2015

Nine-Person Gencia Inks $500 Million Collaboration Deal with Takeda Pharmaceutical Company
September 10, 2015
By Mark Terry, Breaking News Staff

Takeda Pharmaceutical Company , headquartered in Osaka, Japan, and Charlottesville, Va.-based Gencia LLC, announced today a $500 million partnership deal. The two companies plan to work on a new class of small molecules as possible drugs for hematological and inflammatory diseases.

The focus of the collaboration will be on Mitochondrial Agonists of the Glucocorticoid Receptor (MAGR), which are hoped to have benefits over conventional steroids. The research and development will target two preclinical drug candidates, one in inflammation, one in cancer.

Gencia will receive upfront payments and preclinical milestones totaling $500 million. It will also receive royalties on any sales of commercialized products.

“This collaboration and license agreement with Takeda marks an important milestone in the growth and development of our company,” said Allen Cunningham, president and chief executive officer of Gencia in a statement. “Takeda’s strength in drug discovery and development, and in particular their commitment to oncology and inflammation drug research, provides Gencia with the opportunity to advance our mitochondrial targeting platform and MAGR compounds into the clinic, and ultimately to patients in need of these therapies. We are very pleased to have Takeda as our partner in this endeavor.”

Gencia is made up of nine people and went operational in 2010. The MAGRs were developed internally and seem to function differently than steroids, and are believed to show promise for people who have been shown to be steroid resistant.

The company’s platform identifies a mitochondrial target or pathway, then combines structural biology with its own mitochondrial targeting chemistry to design new MAGRs. They are then tested to determine if they can modulate the mitochondrial target or pathway before choosing the compound to study as a possible drug.

“Our core competency is to be a discovery company,” Cunningham told BioWorld. “We’re not looking to in-license. Our efforts will be focused on early stage discovery and preclinical work, and we intend to stick with our model for partnering our mitochondrial therapeutics with pharmaceutical companies to leverage their clinical development and commercialization expertise.”

According to Cortellis Competitive Intelligence, which tracks mitochondrial therapeutic pipeline products, Gencia has the only one that is a glucocorticoid agonist, an oral medication that initially targets psoriasis. In addition, it has a mitochondrial transcription factor A modulator that targets mitochondrial disease.

“We are delighted to partner with Gencia to create new medicines designed to be chemically and functionally different from steroids, but that may still be effective in treating a broad spectrum of diseases for which chronic steroids are currently prescribed,” said Tetsuyuki Maruyama, general manager and head of the Pharmaceutical Research Division at Takeda in a statement. “We expect to change the paradigm for how patients are treated by potentially avoiding the issues that result from long-term steroid use.”

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