Genentech Backs Epigenetics

Jan 20, 2012

Constellation Pharmaceuticals announced that it has entered into a broad collaboration with Genentech, a member of the Roche group, to discover and develop innovative treatments based on epigenetics, which focuses on the identification of small molecule inhibitors of protein activity. Constellation is set to receive funding of $90 million split into an upfront payment and three-years of research funding, but will retain exclusive development and commercialisation rights to selected programs born out of the collaboration. Constellation will be entitled to milestone payments as well as royalties on commercial sales of multiple products by Genentech.

“Genetech is a global leader in the research and development of innovative medicines, and in combination with our class-leading product engine and deep expertise in chromatin biology will create a powerhouse dedicated to bringing the greatest benefit to patients from drugs that modulate epigenetic pathways,” said Mark Goldsmith, president and CEO of Constellation Pharmaceuticals, in a press release.

Oncology is one of the clear targets of epigenetics and chromatin biology. James Sabry, vice president of Genetech Partnering, added, “With scientists committed to the collaboration at both Constellation and Genentech working together in a highly integrated way, our goal is to discover and ultimately bring to market promising new therapies for patients with unmet medical needs in oncology, and potentially other therapeutic areas.”

Outside of the scope of the collaboration are two of Constellation’s most advanced programs focused on inhibitors of the BET chromatin reader and EZH2 chromatin writer proteins, for which it will retain exclusive rights and operational management. However, Genentech has a future buyout option on the table that would include its BET and EZH2 programs.