LES announced the recipients of its Deals of Distinction™ Awards in four industry sectors: Brands As A Business, High-Tech, Industry-University-Government Interface and Life Sciences. The annual program, now in its nineteenth year, recognizes companies that orchestrate the year’s most outstanding licensing and business deals in each sector. The awards were presented during the LES Annual Meeting Business Luncheon on October 16, 2023. Several key dealmakers were on hand to provide insights on their winning deals.

Astellas and Cullgen Enter into Strategic Collaboration and Option Agreement to Advance Innovative Targeted Protein Degraders – 4 of 4

Dealmakers: Astellas Pharma Inc. & Cullgen Inc.

Why it won…

Lalit Gaur, LES; Seth Goldblum, Cullgen; Chinatsu Sakata-Sakuri, Astellas and Gayatri Varma, LES.

From left, Lalit Gaur, LES; Seth Goldblum, Cullgen; Chinatsu Sakata-Sakuri, Astellas and Gayatri Varma, LES.

Under the terms of the agreement, the two companies aim to develop multiple targeted protein degraders by combining Cullgen’s proprietary uSMITE™ targeted protein degradation platform featuring novel E3 ligands with Astellas’ drug discovery capabilities. Cullgen and Astellas will collaboratively conduct joint research to identify clinical development candidates. Astellas will then have an option of exclusively licensing the rights for clinical development and commercialization of the protein degrader compounds identified during the research activities. Cullgen will have the option during the initial stages of clinical development to participate equally in the costs, profits and losses and to co-promote partnered products in the U.S. for the lead program, previously identified by Cullgen as a cell cycle protein degrader for the treatment of breast cancer and other solid tumors.

Seth Goldblum, VP at Cullgen and Chinatsu Sakata-Sakuri, VP at Astellas, accepted the award in person, presented by Gayatri Varma, Chair of the Life Sciences Sector. In their acceptance speeches, both parties stressed the mutual benefits of the deal.

“Targeted Protein Degradation is one of the Primary Focuses of Astellas*1,” said Adam Pearson, Chief Strategy Officer at Astellas. “We hope this collaboration will bring synergies between the two companies’ cutting-edge research and will ultimately lead to the expansion of Astellas’ portfolio and development of new therapeutics for patients with significant unmet medical needs.”

“We are excited to enter into this strategic collaboration with Astellas using our novel E3 ligands, which we discovered in-house,” Ying Luo, President and CEO at Cullgen, said, “We are looking forward to working with Astellas to advance more targeted protein degraders into clinical development.”

Astellas will provide Cullgen with an upfront payment of US$ 35M. Cullgen is also entitled to receive an additional US$ 85M upon Astellas’ exercise of the license option concerning the lead program. Total compensation to Cullgen could exceed $1.9 billion if Astellas exercises all of its license options and all milestones for all programs are achieved. Cullgen can also receive royalty payments from Astellas on any potential commercial sales.

*1: Astellas has established a Focus Area Approach for its research and development strategy. For more information, please https://www.astellas.com/en/science/focus-areaapproach.

Source: Astellas Pharma Press Release, https://www.astellas.com/en/news/27931

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