Generian Enters Agreement with Astellas to Discover and Develop Small Molecules Against ‘Undruggable’ Targets

Generian News Translational Sciences

UPMC Enterprises portfolio company, Generian Pharmaceuticals, has announced a strategic collaboration and exclusive license agreement with Mitobridge, a subsidiary of Astellas Pharma, Inc. The agreement covers the discovery and development of novel small molecules for undruggable therapeutic targets for diseases that have limited treatment options.

Generian and Mitobridge will jointly conduct research and preclinical development activities to identify novel small molecules that directly bind and modulate the activity or stability of target proteins as potential development candidates. Generian will be harnessing a proprietary drug discovery platform for target discovery and hit-to-lead identification.

The platform enables the rapid and scalable discovery of monovalent small molecules that modulate the stability of previously undruggable proteins, including E3 ligases, transcription factors, and membrane receptors. Mitobridge will be responsible for the clinical development, manufacturing, and commercialization of all products arising from the joint research activities. Under the terms of the agreement, Generian will receive an upfront payment and is eligible to receive contingent milestone payments, which could total up to $180 million. Generian is also entitled to receive single digit royalties on global net sales of those products.

“We are excited to collaborate with Astellas and believe our strategy can successfully mine for candidate drugs for therapeutically relevant targets that are currently considered undruggable,” said Hank Safferstein, PhD, JD, Chief Executive Officer of Generian. “Our small molecule discovery approach allows us to rapidly screen and identify potential drug candidates in an entirely new way in order to develop first-in-class medicines.”

Formed by UPMC Enterprises in 2019, Generian is leveraging decades of research from some of the foremost experts in age-related diseases and E3 ligase biology. Generian has identified novel therapeutic strategies to modulate the activity of network regulators, transcription factor EB (TFEB) and AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), which are validated therapeutic targets whose activities diminish with age, disease, or genetic mutations. Generian’s unique approach is centered around regulating the body’s natural signaling networks to improve cellular function and reverse the course of disease.

“Our collaboration with Generian is an exciting and transformative opportunity to accelerate our drug discovery activities in the area of undruggable target space,” said David Barrett, PhD, Division Head and President of Mitobridge. “We are very excited to work with a world-class team of collaborators to deliver significant new treatment options for patients suffering from currently intractable or poorly served diseases.”

To learn more about the partnership between Generian and Astellas, view the press release here.

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