Astellas and PeptiDream ink protein degradation deal

July 26, 2023

Astellas Pharma and Japan-based PeptiDream announced this week that they have entered into a research collaboration and license agreement to discover novel protein degraders for two specific targets selected by Astellas. 

The partnership allows Astellas to potentially choose three additional targets for collaboration and aims to leverage PeptiDream's proprietary drug discovery and development platform — dubbed PDPS (Peptide Discovery Platform System) — to create highly selective peptides. The goal is to develop next-generation protein degraders that can target challenging and previously undruggable areas. Astellas will take charge of developing and commercializing the products resulting from this joint research.

As part of the agreement, Astellas will make an upfront payment of $21 million (¥3.0 billion) to PeptiDream, who, in turn, may receive up to $146 million (¥20.6 billion ) per target in milestones related to discovery, development and sales. Additionally, PeptiDream will be eligible for single-digit percent royalty payments on net sales of any products resulting from the collaboration.

Adam Pearson, CSO at Astellas, emphasizes that targeted protein degradation is a key focus for the company, adding, “We hope this collaboration will bring synergies between the two companies' cutting-edge research and will ultimately lead to the expansion of Astellas’ portfolio and development of new therapeutics for patients with significant unmet medical needs.” 

Just a few weeks ago, Astellas entered another research and exclusive option agreement with San Diego-based startup Cullgen, with the goal to discover new protein degraders and identify clinical development candidates. If Astellas exercises all of its license options and successfully reaches all milestones across all programs, the deal could exceed $1.9 billion.