Genentech has signed a multi-target drug discovery agreement with DiCE Molecules. The biotech’s Roche division is putting out an upfront fee as well as pledging to milestones for the application DiCE’s small molecule platform to its targets of interest. Neither company has revealed the value of the agreement, but history insinuates it will be substantial if the programs against the multiple targets progress.
Last year, when Sanofi signed a 12-target collaboration with DiCE it committed to dish out up to $50 million in equity, upfront as well as other fees over the five-year duration of the deal. It put out about $184 million per target in research, clinical and regulatory milestones.
Genentech, like Sanofi before it, courted DiCE for the access of its platform designed to broaden the range of targets that can be reached with small molecules.
Originally, DiCE had pursued to validate the credentials of the platform by constructing small molecules that interrupt protein-protein interfaces. This process could result in small molecules acting on targets that are presently only accessible with antibodies, which would allow patients with chronic conditions to make the change from expensive injections to oral, cheaper pills.
The platform also possesses the ability to hit targets deemed undruggable, a fact that caught the attention of Genentech.
“DiCE’s unique technology naturally complements Genentech’s efforts in small molecule drug discovery and offers the potential to unlock some of the most challenging targets, including those that were once thought to be undruggable,” Genentech SVP James Sabry stated.
In partnering with Genentech, DiCE CEO Kevin Judice, Ph.D., has made his way back to the beginning of his career in the biotech industry. Judice’s employer at the start of his career was Genentech and his focus was disrupting protein-protein interactions, how ironic?
Judice has also kept DiCE on the course he originally projected at the time of the Sanofi deal. Judice stated the goal would be to sign another partner a year later to maintain the company’s unusual funding model and with Genentech signing the deal, he is right on track.