Epigenetics form epicenter of Genentech, Constellation agreement

Constellation Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, have announced the beginning of a major strategic agreement to launch a broad collaboration based on epigenetics and chromatin biology for the discovery and development of innovative treatments for cancer and other diseases.

Kelsey Kaustinen
CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—Constellation Pharmaceuticals, Inc. andGenentech, a member of the Roche Group, have announced the beginning of a majorstrategic agreement to launch a broad collaboration based on epigenetics andchromatin biology for the discovery and development of innovative treatmentsfor cancer and other diseases.
 
Per the agreement, Genentech will payConstellation $95 million in committed funding, which includes an upfrontpayment and research funding for a three-year collaboration period. Additionalfunding could come from substantial development and commercialization milestonepayments as well as up to double-digit royalties on commercial sales ofmultiple products by Genentech. Constellation will retain exclusive developmentand commercialization rights to selected programs that result from thecollaboration, for which the company will owe payments to Genentech based onsuccessful commercialization of said products.
 
"Genentech is a global leader in the research anddevelopment of innovative medicines, and in combination with our class-leadingproduct engine and deep expertise in chromatin biology, we will create apowerhouse dedicated to bringing the greatest benefit to patients from drugsthat modulate epigenetic pathways," Mark A. Goldsmith, M.D., Ph.D., presidentand CEO of Constellation, said in a press release. "This is a groundbreakingpartnership in terms of the structure, breadth and potential future clinicalimpact of products created through our complementary capabilities. Thecommitted revenue and post-collaboration economics should provide a highlyattractive return for our investors."
 
 
The research collaboration will deal with several epigenetictarget classes. Constellation will have independent strategic direction,operational management and exclusive rights to programs that fall outside ofthe scope of the collaboration, including its two most advanced programs(focused on developing BET chromatin reader protein inhibitors and EZH2chromatin writer protein inhibitors). Genentech, for its part, has a futureoption to acquire all of Constellation's outstanding shares based on previouslynegotiated terms, including an initial acquisition payments and contingentvalue rights payments based on the future development and successfulcommercialization of multiple products by Genentech. If Genentech exercises itsoption to acquire Constellation, it will also gain the BET and EZH2 programs inaddition to other programs outside the collaboration.
 
 
"We believe Constellation is a leading company in chromatinbiology and epigenetics drug discovery and an excellent partner for Genentechin this area," James Sabry, M.D., Ph.D., vice president of GenentechPartnering, said in a press release. "With scientists committed to thecollaboration at both Constellation and Genentech working together in a highlyintegrated way, our goal is to discover and ultimately bring to marketpromising new therapies for patients with unmet medical needs in oncology, andpotentially other therapeutic areas."
 
 
Constellation specializes primarily in the field ofepigenetics in the search for small molecule therapeutics for cancer,inflammatory/immunologic disorders and other diseases. The company's drugdiscovery path focuses on "both the enzymes that modify the dynamic structureof chromatin (writers and erasers) and other proteins that interact withchromatin (readers) to control gene expression."

 
SOURCE: Constellation Pharmaceuticals press release

Kelsey Kaustinen

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