Epigenetics form epicenter of Genentech, Constellation agreement
by Kelsey Kaustinen  |  Email the author


CAMBRIDGE, Mass.óConstellation 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.
Per the agreement, Genentech will pay Constellation $95 million in committed funding, which includes an upfront payment and research funding for a three-year collaboration period. Additional funding could come from substantial development and commercialization milestone payments as well as up to double-digit royalties on commercial sales of multiple products by Genentech. Constellation will retain exclusive development and commercialization rights to selected programs that result from the collaboration, for which the company will owe payments to Genentech based on successful commercialization of said products.
"Genentech is a global leader in the research and development of innovative medicines, and in combination with our class-leading product engine and deep expertise in chromatin biology, we will create a powerhouse dedicated to bringing the greatest benefit to patients from drugs that modulate epigenetic pathways," Mark A. Goldsmith, M.D., Ph.D., president and CEO of Constellation, said in a press release. "This is a groundbreaking partnership in terms of the structure, breadth and potential future clinical impact of products created through our complementary capabilities. The committed revenue and post-collaboration economics should provide a highly attractive return for our investors."  
The research collaboration will deal with several epigenetic target classes. Constellation will have independent strategic direction, operational management and exclusive rights to programs that fall outside of the scope of the collaboration, including its two most advanced programs (focused on developing BET chromatin reader protein inhibitors and EZH2 chromatin writer protein inhibitors). Genentech, for its part, has a future option to acquire all of Constellation's outstanding shares based on previously negotiated terms, including an initial acquisition payments and contingent value rights payments based on the future development and successful commercialization of multiple products by Genentech. If Genentech exercises its option to acquire Constellation, it will also gain the BET and EZH2 programs in addition to other programs outside the collaboration.  
"We believe Constellation is a leading company in chromatin biology and epigenetics drug discovery and an excellent partner for Genentech in this area," James Sabry, M.D., Ph.D., vice president of Genentech Partnering, said in a press release. "With scientists committed to the collaboration at both Constellation and Genentech working together in a highly integrated way, our goal is to discover and ultimately bring to market promising new therapies for patients with unmet medical needs in oncology, and potentially other therapeutic areas."  
Constellation specializes primarily in the field of epigenetics in the search for small molecule therapeutics for cancer, inflammatory/immunologic disorders and other diseases. The company's drug discovery path focuses on "both the enzymes that modify the dynamic structure of chromatin (writers and erasers) and other proteins that interact with chromatin (readers) to control gene expression."

SOURCE: Constellation Pharmaceuticals press release
Code: E01171201

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