Epizyme and Celgene International Sàrl, a subsidiary of Celgene Corporation (NASDAQ: CELG) today announced the formation of a strategic partnership to discover, develop and commercialize personalized therapeutics for patients with genetically-defined cancers by inhibiting histone methyltransferases (HMTs), an important epigenetic target class.
Under the terms of the agreement, Celgene receives the exclusive option to license ex-US rights to Epizyme’s available HMT inhibitor programs during an initial three-year period and has the right to extend this option period for one year with additional funding. Epizyme and Celgene will work jointly to discover and develop HMT inhibitors and will co-fund global development of the collaboration programs.
The collaboration leverages the transformational science of Epizyme’s HMT inhibitor platform and includes Epizyme’s DOT1L HMT inhibitor program, to which Celgene licenses the ex-US rights at signing. DOT1L is an oncogenic driver gene in a subtype of acute leukemias called Mixed Lineage Leukemia (MLL). The DOT1L program is currently in pre-clinical development.
Epizyme retains all US rights to the collaboration programs and receives a $90 million upfront payment, which includes an equity investment. For each HMT inhibitor that Celgene licenses, Epizyme is eligible to earn more than $160 million in milestone payments and up to double-digit royalties on ex-US sales.“Celgene is a leader in epigenetic therapies for cancer through our existing drugs, and continues to focus on delivering new drugs with high therapeutic impact in this area,” said Thomas Daniel, M.D., President of Research for Celgene. “Epizyme's platform, scientific leadership in histone methyltransferases and leading position on promising HMT targets offers an exciting complementary approach. Our collaboration with Epizyme is a key element of our strategy to develop new and innovative therapeutic paradigms.” “Our Celgene partnership is a transformational step in Epizyme’s growth and is made possible by Celgene’s vision and commitment to patients,” said Robert Gould, Ph.D., CEO and President of Epizyme. “Through this collaboration, Epizyme gains access to Celgene’s leading drug development resources, enabling us to substantially increase the breadth and depth of our efforts while retaining US rights to our pipeline of personalized therapeutics.”
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