Boehringer Ingelheim will collaborate with the University of Dundee to develop a novel class of medicines that degrade proteins playing a central role in disease processes, the partners said today, under an alliance whose value was not disclosed.

The collaboration aims to develop PROteolysis TArgeting Chimeric molecules (PROTACs), building on research by University of Dundee principal investigator Alessio Ciulli, Ph.D., associate professor of chemical and structural biology.

PROTACs are designed to remove disease-causing proteins by triggering their labeling as “expired,” resulting in their removal by the cell’s ubiquitin-proteasome system. PROTACs are made of a moiety that binds the target and a moiety that binds a ubiquitin ligase enzyme, and as a result they are likely to exceed the size of conventional oral drug molecules.

According to Boehringer Ingelheim and the University of Dundee, PROTACs are envisioned as being applicable to therapeutic areas as diverse as oncology, immunology, and respiratory diseases.

“We aim to establish a unique platform that can generate PROTAC-based drug candidates for multiple areas of unmet medical need,” Clive R. Wood, Ph.D., senior corporate vp, discovery research at Boehringer Ingelheim, said in a statement.

Immunology and respiratory diseases comprise one of Boehringer Ingelheim’s four discovery research therapeutic areas, with oncology being another. The other two areas are cardiometabolic and central nervous system.

The collaboration will make use of University facilities that include the MRC Protein Phosphorylation and Ubiquitylation Unit and the FingerPrint Proteomics Facility.