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The new joint venture, named Oerth Bio, will use Arvinas’ Protac technology to develop innovative new agricultural products. As part of its collaboration with Arvinas, Bayer is also using this technology to develop human therapeutics.
Bayer and Arvinas, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company specializing in targeted protein degradation product development, announced the finalization of terms of their agreement to jointly launch a new company, Oerth Bio (pronounced “Earth”), to be led by John Dombrosky, CEO of the new joint venture. Oerth leverages Arvinas’ expertise in targeted protein degradation and Bayer’s experience in developing both human therapies and innovative, sustainable agricultural technologies, according to an Oct. 1, 2019 company press release.
Oerth Bio will be supported by intellectual property and over $55 million in committed funding from Bayer and technology and intellectual property from Arvinas. Bayer and Arvinas will equally share governance and equity ownership of the joint venture. Oerth Bio will build a team of leading scientists, enabling the company to run as an independent and sustainable organization.
Protac targeted protein degraders, which Arvinas is developing for human health applications, also have the potential to develop solutions to help control weeds, insects, and disease and can address resistance mechanisms plants have developed against existing agricultural solutions.
“We are incredibly excited to be a part of this first exploration of [Protac] technology in agriculture,” said Bob Reiter, head of R&D, Crop Science division of Bayer, in the press release. “This alliance is a unique combination of expertise to truly shape the future of agriculture. The work that will be done by Oerth Bio could help farmers overcome the diseases, pests, and weeds that lead to lost crop yields every year.”
“At Arvinas, we believe Oerth Bio has the potential to extend the power of our [Protac] technology into ag science, where we hope it will significantly impact the resilience and durability of our food supply,” said John Houston, president and CEO at Arvinas, in the press release. “With extensive expertise in crop science, funding, and company building, John is an ideal fit to lead Oerth Bio and will certainly serve the company well in its mission and build upon the promise of [Protac] protein degraders.”
Prior to joining Oerth Bio, Dombrosky was the CEO of AgTech Accelerator, which sourced, formed, and actively managed emerging big-vision agtech startups with a leading syndicate of investors. Prior to AgTech Accelerator, John served in multiple executive roles at Syngenta, Thomson Reuters, and Northwest Airlines.
The original collaboration between Bayer and Arvinas was announced in June 2019. In addition to the formation of the joint venture company, Bayer would also make an equity investment for a pharmaceutical collaboration.
Under their agreement, Arvinas gets an upfront payment and pharmaceutical R&D support over the next four years, as well as a direct equity investment. These investments combined will exceed $60 million, according to Bayer. Bayer will own the rights to novel lead structures generated in the course of the collaboration, and, as programs progress through research, development, and commercialization, Arvinas might also be eligible to receive pre-defined development milestones of over $685 million and commercial royalties.
“As the first company founded to explore targeted protein degradation, we’ve been excited about the potential to improve the lives of patients since our inception,” said Houston in the June 4, 2019 company press release regarding the announcement of this collaboration. “We’ve also anticipated the broad potential of our [Protac] platform to move beyond treating human disease. This collaboration enables us not only to expand our platform into new therapeutic areas, but also begins a new journey in applying our approach to agriculture. We are thrilled to work with Bayer to begin developing solutions to efficiently support the needs of the world’s growing population and to improve human health.”