- Celgene Corp. has shelled out $195 million for a new drug development partnership with private biotech Forma Therapeutics Inc. that will span the next couple of years.
- The payment comes as part of an optional provision from an agreement the companies inked back in March 2014. Per that deal, Celgene paid $225 million upfront for the ability to license current and future investigational drugs from Forma for a three and a half year period. The big drugmaker could also enter up to two more collaborations with its smaller partner, each lasting two years and worth an aggregate $375 million.
- Celgene's new agreement, which will last until Oct. 1, 2019, is one of those additional collaborations. If the company racks up a second, it gets an exclusive option to acquire Forma.
Forma focuses on creating drugs that regulate the proteome, or the array of proteins found in the body's cells and tissues. Because research has shown protein development and folding is integral to overall health as well as disease progression, pharmaceutical companies have demonstrated in recent years a growing interest in therapies that promote proteostasis.
To that end, Forma fetched millions of dollars in multiple rounds of financing.
In particular, Celgene has been a prominent source of money for Forma. The two companies landed their first deal with each other in April 2013. Its aim was to find candidates that target protein homeostasis pathways, with Forma in charge of drug development through Phase 1 and Celgene taking the reins after that. Celgene handed over $200 million to its partner for R&D expenses, and offered up another $315.0 million in potential other payments for the first drug advanced through the partnership and up to $430 million for each successive program.
By the end of 2016, Celgene had given Forma $118 million for five license agreements stemming from that collaboration.
The big biotech also paid its partner $41 million for two license agreements related to the 2014 collaboration — which is centered on treatments for protein homeostasis, neurodegeneration, and inflammation and immunology, according to an Aug. 29 statement from Forma.
Forma has retained U.S. rights to the drug candidates from both of those agreements.
"Our continued collaboration with Forma is based upon the quality of their drug candidates, their adaptability to enter new emerging areas of biology, and their leadership in fostering a collaborative culture at the forefront of innovation," Rupert Vessey, head of research and early development at Celgene, said in the Aug. 29 statement.