PeptiDream said today it will use its Peptide Discovery Platform System (PDPS) technology to generate macrocylic/constrained peptides against multiple targets of interest selected by Merck & Co.

The value of the peptide discovery collaboration was not disclosed. The partnership gives Merck rights to develop and commercialize all therapeutic peptides resulting from the collaboration. The pharma giant will also retain an option to nonexclusively license the PDPS technology in the future.

The platform applies three core technologies:

  • “Flexizyme,” an in vitro evolved artificial ribozyme (RNA catalyst) which according to PeptiDream can efficiently catalyze the aminoacylation of any non-standard amino acid on to any tRNA,
  • Translation, cyclization, and peptide modifying technology, a flexible cell-free transcription-translation system compatible with Flexizyme-prepared nonstandard aa-tRNA pairs, and designed for efficient incorporation of such nonstandard amino acids without the high rate of mis-incorporation events seen with other cell free translation systems.
  • PD Display, the company’s self-developed in vitro display methodology designed to avoid the drawbacks of conventional phage display, mRNA display, and ribosome display methodologies.

PeptiDream said the platform allows PeptiDream to identify hundreds of novel nonstandard macrocylic peptides against a target in weeks, covering a wide variety of peptide classes and structures, from libraries of trillions of unique cyclic and helical nonstandard peptides with unparalleled diversity.

“Our unique PDPS platform allows us to rapidly build highly diverse constrained peptide libraries, largely tailored to the individual target, leading to the rapid identification of chemically diverse hits, which can then be quickly assessed for the desired biological activity profiles,” PeptiDream CEO Kiichi Kubota said in a statement.

After using the platform, PeptiDream said, researchers can screen hundreds of hits a week for the desired target binding, selectivity, and biochemical activity by independently expressing each peptide using the company’s PDTS translation system, designed to avoid expensive and time consuming chemical synthesis. Leads can then be chemically synthesized and purified for further development.

PeptiDream said it will receive from Merck an upfront payment and research funding, and will be eligible for payments tied to achieving preclinical and clinical development milestones. PeptiDream is also eligible to receive royalties on sales of any products arising from the collaboration.

Merck joins several biopharma giants that have established discovery collaborations with PeptiDream—including Amgen, AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers-Squibb, Daiichi Sankyo, Eli Lilly, GlaxoSmithKline, Mitsubishi Tanabe, and Novartis.

Novartis and another pharma, Bristol-Myers Squibb, have made “broad use” of the PDPS discovery platform, while Ipsen is using the platform as part of a strategic collaboration with PeptiDream.

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