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Rodin, Biogen Partner on Neurological Epigenetics

Nerve cells in brain illustration

(Science360.gov)

6 January 2016. The biotechnology company Rodin Therapeutics is collaborating with Biogen, another biotech enterprise, in developing treatments based on epigenetics for neurological disorders. The agreement includes a $17.3 million equity investment in Rodin by Biogen and venture investor Atlas Venture, with an option for Biogen to acquire Rodin that provides further payments valued as much as $485 million.

Rodin Therapeutics, founded in 2013 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, designs treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological disorders based on discoveries in epigenetics licensed from the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT. The Broad Institute’s work in epigenetics includes research on molecular and chemical activity attached to DNA and its protein support structure that can turn genes on and off, and thus have influence over a wide range of biological activity. Biogen, also in Cambridge and founded in 1978, develops therapies in neurodegenerative diseases, autoimmune disorders, and blood-related conditions.

The deal calls for Rodin and Biogen to explore epigenetics related to plasticity of synapses that may provide therapeutic benefits. Synapses are nerve cell connections that transfer information between neurons, or between neurons and muscle cells. The plasticity of synapses, or the ability to adjust their strength to meet new demands, are believed to affect learning and memory.

Much of Rodin’s work is in histone deacetylase, or HDAC, inhibitor enzymes. Recent findings show HDAC inhibitors can play a role in enhancing plasticity of synapses and consolidation of memory. The company is developing treatments based on HDAC inhibitors for Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Under the agreement, Biogen and Atlas Venture are acquiring Rodin preferred shares for $17.3 million. As reported by Science & Enterprise in 2014, Atlas Venture is an early funder of Rodin and a partner in starting the company. The deal gives Biogen an option to acquire Rodin at predetermined milestones in the partnership. In return, Rodin is eligible for an unspecified initial amount and progress payments from Biogen totaling $485 million.

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