Start-up drug discovery firm Quanticel will receive $45 million plus an equity investment from Celgene during the first 3.5 years of a collaboration focused on the discovery and development of anticancer drugs. Under terms of the deal, Celgene has in addition negotiated an exclusive option to acquire Quanticel outright.
In the meantime, the firms’ partnership will involve Quanticel applying its single-cell genomic analysis platform to patient tumor samples to identify predictive biomarkers for Celgene’s investigational drugs. The firm will also continue with its own drug discovery work to generate candidates that Celgene will have access to through its acquisition option.
“Quanticel’s platform approach provides a unique advantage for defining mechanisms of sensitivity and resistance and for validating and pursuing novel targets for difficult-to-treat cancers,” comments Thomas Daniel, M.D., president for global research and early development at Celgene. “We view this scientific collaboration and this business model as an innovative approach with high potential to advance the delivery of impactful cancer drugs.”
Quanticel has to date been incubated and financed by Versant Ventures, which claims the deal with Celgene represents a win-win situation. Versant gets a strategic partner and potential acquirer, and Celgene has early and exclusive access to a promising R&D engine. “Aligning our financing strategy to create a start-up that supports the needs of a preeminent global biopharmaceutical company such as Celgene should build even greater liquidity than the traditional biotech venture approach,” notes Bradley Bolzon, Ph.D., Versant’s M.D.