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Molecular glue deals abound

Genentech, Amgen forge or extend research collaborations with smaller firms

by Gina Vitale
October 5, 2023 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 101, Issue 33


A-Alpha Bio CEO David Younger.
Credit: A-Alpha Bio
A-Alpha Bio CEO David Younger

Two recent deals in molecular glues come hot on the heels of the launch of Magnet Biomedicine, a glues-focused start-up.

On Sept. 20, Orionis Biosciences said that it would be teaming up with Genentech—owned by Roche—to discover and develop glues; on Sept 26, A-Alpha Bio and Amgen announced that they would be expanding a glue partnership struck last year.

Molecular glues are monovalent small molecules that draw two proteins into close proximity with each other. Often, the target protein will be implicated in disease and the other protein will be an E3 ligase that can label the target protein for destruction.

For $47 million up front, Orionis will aim to discover glues for targets indicated by Genentech in disease areas that include oncology and neurodegeneration. A-Alpha will collect an undisclosed up-front payment as part of its deal expansion with Amgen.

As part of their initial collaboration, Amgen shared several drug targets with A-Alpha. The biotechnology firm used its AlphaSeq platform to discover weak interactions between some of Amgen’s targets and some E3 ligases in A-Alpha’s library, according to CEO David Younger. A-Alpha will now further evaluate certain weakly interacting pairs.


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