Ensemble Therapeutics said it will launch an up-to-$186 million research collaboration with Boehringer Ingelheim to discover candidates from a class of small molecule drugs called macrocycles against several undisclosed “high-value” targets specified by the pharma giant.

Ensemble said it will receive an upfront payment and research funding, both undisclosed, with the full $186 million tied to milestones in reaching full commercial success for multiple drug products. Ensemble is also eligible for royalties on future sales of products arising from the collaboration.

Boehringer will have exclusive rights to develop and commercialize substances from the collaboration, which will deploy Ensemble’s drug discovery platforms, including its Ensemblin™ collection of about 5 million macrocycles. Ensemblins are a class of synthetic macrocycles designed to address many protein targets that cannot be modulated effectively by traditional small molecule drug compounds.

While macrocycles have been challenging to synthesize in large numbers, constraining their wider use until now, Ensemble’s platform generates millions of macrocyclic Ensemblins as drug candidates, which according to the company is larger than any collection previously synthesized in the pharmaceutical industry.

The Boehringer collaboration follows earlier joint research efforts based on Ensemble’s macrocycle libraries with Genentech, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Pfizer.

Ensemble’s drug discovery and development efforts are focused on oncology and immuno-inflammatory diseases. Early next year the company is poised to begin development of its lead program, a small molecule antagonist of Interleukin-17, a cytokine linked to inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.

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