Deal gives Genentech option to acquire Constellation outright.

Roche’s Genentech will pay Constellation Pharmaceuticals $95 million in up front fees and research funding as part of an epigenetics and chromatin biology collaboration. They will focus on the discovery and development of drugs for cancer and other diseases. Genentech also has an option to acquire Constellation outright.

The research collaboration will span multiple epigenetic target classes. Under terms of the deal Constellation will be eligible for additional future development and commercialization milestone payments. It will also have exclusive development and commercialization rights to select programs resulting from the partnership.

The firm will also retain independent rights to programs that fall outside the collaboration with Genentech, including its two existing lead programs focused on inhibitors of BE chromatin reader and EZH2 chromatin writer proteins. If Genentech exercises its option to take over Constellation, the latter will acquire the BET and EZH2 programs along with any other programs that weren’t included under the scope of the the firms’ collaboration.

Constellation has assembled an integrated set of technologies comprising target validation tools, biochemical, biophysical, and cell-based assays, as well as preferred compound collections against targets in each of the writer, eraser, and reader classes of epigenetic targets. In June 2011, the firm raised $15 million in a Series B extension financing round to help progress its preclinical candidates toward the clinic.  

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