Bay Area's Carmot Lands $240M+ R&D Tie-Up With Biotech Giant Amgen


Carmot Therapeutics has inked a multi-year collaboration and licensing deal with Thousand Oaks, Calif.-based Amgen.

Under the terms of the deal, Carmot will use its lead-identification technology, Chemotype Evolution, to identify and advance novel drug leads for Parkinson’s disease and other disease areas. The two companies will then work together to choose therapeutic targets and identify drug candidates. Amgen will be entirely responsible for clinical development, manufacturing, and commercialization activities of any molecules that result.

Amgen can pick multiple targets. Carmot will receive an upfront payment and research support. It is also eligible for milestone payments from Amgen based on hitting preclinical, clinical and commercialization milestones. The amounts could exceed $240 million. Also, Carmot is eligible for royalties on any commercial products.

“Over the past few years, we have greatly expanded the capabilities of Chemotype Evolution to better address unmet chemical needs in drug discovery,” said Stig Hansen, Carmot’s chief executive officer, in a statement. “Our relationship with Amgen started in 2014 with our first discovery collaboration that was extended in 2016. We are delighted to announce a new and expanded collaboration with Amgen to discover drug candidates for challenging therapeutic targets. Working with Amgen, we will be able to more fully leverage the capabilities of Chemotype Evolution to identify novel drug candidates for the benefit of patients.”

In July 2016, Carmot signed a drug discovery collaboration and licensing deal with Genentech, a Roche company. Again, Carmot was using its Chemotype Evolution platform technology to identify and discovery novel drug hits. Carmot received an undisclosed upfront payment, potential milestone payments, and is eligible for royalties on certain product sales.

“Signing this new discovery collaboration with Genentech is an important step as we continue to build additional value in the company through strategic partnerships around our proprietary chemistry platform, Chemotype Evolution,” Hansen said in a statement at the time. “We look forward to closely working with scientific teams at Genentech to deliver potent new lead compounds for their programs.”

Chemotype Evolution begins by designing an anchor molecule, or what the company refers to as “bait.” The bait can be developed from known inhibitors, substrates, co-factors, peptides or other hits. The bait contains a reactive functionality that can be linked individually with every “fragment” molecule in Carmot’s library. These linked molecules make up a custom library of two-component molecules that are biased towards the target. It’s then screened against the target to detect binding or modulation of target activity in different assays. It does not screen compound pools—all compounds are synthesized and evaluated individually.

“Discovering new medicines to treat debilitating neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s is a key area of focus for our Neuroscience research team,” said John Dunlop, vice president of Amgen’s Neuroscience Research, in a statement. “We’re excited to expand Amgen’s relationship with Carmot to leverage its unique small molecule capabilities to address targets that traditionally have been very difficult to drug.”

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