Donate to Science & Enterprise

S&E on Mastodon

S&E on LinkedIn

S&E on Flipboard

Please share Science & Enterprise

Peptide Discovery Company to Gain $3.3B in Licensing Deals

Test tubes in a lab

(Martin Lopez, Pexels)

27 Dec. 2022. A discoverer of therapeutic peptides signed licensing deals in the past few days with two drug makers that could bring the company as much as $3.3 billion. PeptiDream Inc., a biotechnology enterprise in Kanagawa, Japan announced yesterday a collaboration agreement with Eli Lilly and Company in Indianapolis, and on 22 Dec. unveiled its deal with Merck & Co. in Rahway, New Jersey.

PeptiDream discovers therapies in peptides, short chains of amino acids smaller than proteins, but with potential as treatments for disease. The company says its technology synthesizes peptides with a chemical process similar to ribosome molecules in cells that convert messenger RNA sequences into amino acids. PeptiDream says its process enables creation of libraries with some 400 amino acids, well beyond the 20 amino acid building blocks found in nature.

On their own, however, peptides have little therapeutic practicality, due to their instability and limited ability in many cases to penetrate cell membranes. PeptiDream says its technology enables the design of more complex macrocyclic and constrained peptides, that are still smaller than proteins and many biologic drugs, but also capable of penetrating into cells and interacting with target proteins. The company’s process is based on research by its scientific founder, Hiroaki Suga, professor of chemistry at University of Tokyo.

Combine peptides with drug payloads

PeptiDream provides its peptides as therapy candidates to drug makers through collaboration and licensing agreements, often over many years. In Nov. 2017, Science & Enterprise reported on a deal between PeptiDream and pharma company Bayer, valued at $1.1 billion. The latest PeptiDream agreement is with Eli Lilly and Co., extending a relationship begun in 2013. The new deal calls for PeptiDream and Lilly to collaborate on peptide drug conjugates that use the ability of peptides to find precise therapeutic targets, but also deliver drug compounds to those targets.

The agreement with Eli Lilly calls for PeptiDream to lead peptide discovery and optimization, while Lilly leads on drug payload discovery and optimization. Lilly is also responsible for all subsequent development efforts. PeptiDream is receiving an undisclosed initial payment, and is eligible for development, regulatory, and commercial milestones valued at ¥163 billion ($US 1.2 billion), if all terms of the agreement are fulfilled.

The deal with Merck & Co., announced on 22 Dec. also calls for collaboration on discovery of peptide drug conjugates, in this case with cytotoxic, or cancer-killing properties. Under the agreement, PeptiDream is providing peptide candidates for Merck to combine with cytotoxic payloads in peptide drug conjugates. Merck gains an exclusive license to the peptides, while PeptiDream receives an initial payment and development, regulatory, and commercial milestone payments totaling ¥275 billion or $US 2.1 billion. Merck, known outside the U.S. as MSD, and PeptiDream began collaborating in 2015.

More from Science & Enterprise:

We designed Science & Enterprise for busy readers including investors, researchers, entrepreneurs, and students. Except for a narrow cookies and privacy strip for first-time visitors, we have no pop-ups blocking the entire page, nor distracting animated GIF graphics. If you want to subscribe for daily email alerts, you can do that here, or find the link in the upper left-hand corner of the desktop page. The site is free, with no paywall. But, of course, donations are gratefully accepted.

*     *     *


1 comment to Peptide Discovery Company to Gain $3.3B in Licensing Deals