Roche will use the Degronimid™ small-molecule platform of C4 Therapeutics to discover new targeted protein degradation (TPD) treatments under a collaboration that could generate more than $750 million for the startup spun out of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
C4 Therapeutics disclosed the collaboration with Roche today—as well as its formal launch with the closing of a $73 million Series A financing whose investors included Roche and Novartis. C4 exclusively licenses the Degronimid platform from Dana-Farber, where the technology was developed in 2010 by researchers in the laboratory of James (Jay) E. Bradner, M.D., who in September was appointed president of the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research (NIBR).
Dr. Bradner is a scientific cofounder of C4, along with Ken Anderson, M.D., and Nathanael Gray, Ph.D., both of Dana-Farber. However, Dr. Bradner will no longer have involvement with C4, the company said, due to his position at NIBR.
Degronimids link drug-like small molecules to the cellular ubiquitin/proteasome system to naturally eliminate targeted proteins by tagging them with ubiquitin for destruction by the proteasome. According to C4, Degronimids are capable of hitting many more targets than protein inhibitors or peptide-based approaches, and are active against previously undruggable targets while also reducing potential for drug resistance. The technology can be used to develop treatments for a broad range of diseases, according to C4.
Under the collaboration with Roche, C4 initially will develop TPD therapeutics that use Degronimid technology for a specific set of target proteins. After successful completion of a defined preclinical development phase, Roche has the option to pursue further pre-/clinical development and commercialization.
C4 will receive an undisclosed upfront payment and additional development, regulatory, and commercial milestone payments per target, as well as sales milestone payments and potential tiered royalties on sales of products resulting from the agreement. The startup added that the potential value of the deal is greater than $750 million.
“This partnership strengthens our leadership position in the field of TPD therapeutic drug discovery,” Marc Cohen, C4’s co-founder and executive chairman, said in a statement. “It is part of our strategy to enter into multiple target-specific partnerships that will allow us to pursue a broad set of indications in parallel while supporting the continued development of our proprietary platform.”
In conjunction with the Series A financing, C4 named Jason Fisherman, M.D., as CEO and member of the board of directors. Dr. Fisherman has been a venture investor at Synthesis Capital and Advent International, and previously held drug research and clinical development positions in biopharmaceutical companies, academia, and the NIH’s National Cancer Institute.
Cobro Ventures led the Series A round, with participation from Cormorant Asset Management, The Kraft Group, EG Capital Group, and angel investors, as well as Roche and Novartis.