WALTHAM, Mass.—Early April saw Arrakis Therapeutics, a biopharmaceutical company pioneering the discovery of a new class of small-molecule medicines that directly target RNA, announced a strategic collaboration and license agreement with Roche for the discovery of RNA-targeted small-molecule (rSM) drugs against a broad set of targets across all of Roche’s research and development areas.
“We are excited to partner with Roche’s strong research and development teams. Together, we share a common vision of accessing new drug targets at the RNA level and thereby discovering novel medicines to treat diseases with high unmet medical need. The collaboration will increase the number of new treatments for patients arising from our proprietary rSM discovery platform,” said Dr. Michael Gilman, CEO of Arrakis. “In addition to the Roche collaboration, we are further building our capabilities and advancing our wholly owned rSM programs for diseases unaddressed by today’s medicines.”
Under the terms of the agreement, Arrakis will lead discovery and research activities for each target to a defined point, at which time Roche will have the right to exclusively pursue further preclinical and clinical development. Arrakis will receive an upfront payment of $190 million in cash and may also receive preclinical, clinical, commercial and sales milestone payments and royalties for any resulting products. The aggregate potential value of future payments to Arrakis exceeds several billion dollars, subject to regulatory approvals and other conditions being met.
“Through our pioneering work in RNA biology, we have built a platform for creating and adapting drug discovery tools that allow us to predict and validate the structure of RNA targets, locate druggable pockets, identify drug-like hits, and conduct medicinal chemistry programs to discover a new class of RNA-targeted medicines optimized for potency, selectivity and safety,” said Dr. Jennifer C. Petter, founder and chief scientific officer of Arrakis. “This agreement with Roche underscores the value inherent in our rSM platform and will enable us to continue to make leading discoveries and further scientific contributions in the field.”
Arrakis is taking a broad approach, targeting multiple mechanisms across the lifecycle of RNA to establish a new paradigm for small-molecule drug discovery. The company’s discovery platform integrates leading-edge RNA bioinformatic and structural tools, curated chemical libraries, RNA-specific assays and RNA-guided medicinal chemistry. In addition to collaborating with partners, Arrakis is developing an internal pipeline of rSMs to treat a range of serious illnesses, including cancers and other diseases where strongly validated targets and drivers of disease have been identified but have proven challenging with other drug approaches and modalities.