- Cambridge biotech Warp Drive Bio has inked its second major partnership with a big pharma, announcing on Wednesday a technology collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline aimed at discovering small molecule medicines for target proteins typically considered "undruggable."
- Under the collaboration, Warp Drive and Glaxo will design a library of compounds using Warp Drive's small molecule-assisted receptor targeting (SMART) platform. Glaxo will build and screen that library against a set of targets, including RAS, SHP2 and Cbl-b.
- Most small-molecule drugs target proteins to alter the course of a disease. However, a large number of proteins — Warp Drive estimates 80% — can't be effectively targeted, using due to challenges binding to the protein in question.
Warp Drive Bio, based in Cambridge, MA, was launched in early 2012 after incubating with the venture capital firm Third Rock Ventures. French drugmaker Sanofi helped fund the biotech, along with financing from Third Rock and Greylock Partners, and set up an ambitious runway for growth that included a possible future acquisition by French pharma if certain milestones were hit.
Four years later, Sanofi and Warp Drive announced a new, modified collaboration, focusing on the RAS oncogene and gram-negative antibiotics. While Warp Drive retained the right to develop its platform against other targets, alone or in collaboration with other companies, Sanofi secured an exclusive license to commercialize candidates discovered during the five-year research term.
This week's partnership with Glaxo further builds out Warp Drive's research efforts. Together, the companies hope to build a library of as many as 200 million "SMART" compounds to fuel discovery on new therapeutics.
The SMART technology, Warp Drive says, enables binding to an intracellular receptor and effectively creates a "intracellular biologic" capable of turning protein expression on or off.
While Glaxo will be responsible for screening the library against targets of interest, each company will develop and commercialize products independently.