Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Deerfield Management announced today an up to $80 million collaboration to create the Center for Protein Degradation at Dana-Farber. The goal of the Center for Protein Degradation is to interrogate and advance a large portfolio of advanced targeted protein degrader targets while creating a next-generation protein degrader platform. The platform will utilize knowledge created while interrogating the targets and will continue to advance the science of targeted protein degradation of additional members of the proteasome for therapeutic benefit.
The new Center for Protein Degradation will be led by Dr. Nathanael Gray and Dr. Eric Fischer, both world-renowned scientists, while operational support, management expertise and initial funds will be contributed by Deerfield. Additional funding for therapeutic targets will be provided by Deerfield upon successful proof-of-concept studies.
Current targeted protein degraders work by directing a protein of interest to the proteasome where it is broken down into smaller polypeptides. Protein degradation serves multiple purposes and can be used to interrogate basic biology or eliminate a protein that is implicated in disease initiation or progression from a cell for an extended period of time. This approach may provide more robust therapeutic effects due to complete elimination of protein function as compared to classical small molecule protein inhibitors that target a particular catalytic activity. The Center for Protein Degradation will focus on development of efficient approaches for discovering and optimizing new small molecule degraders and in identifying the biological targets most tractable for this approach.
The Center for Protein Degradation will solicit collaborations from the Dana-Farber and Harvard Medical School community to explore degradation concepts across a wide range of targets and disease settings. Projects will move through a tiered system from proof of concept, to validation in preclinical models and towards clinical development.
“We are excited about exploring the promise of protein degradation with Deerfield and appreciate the substantial commitment it is making to this enterprise,” said Laurie H. Glimcher, MD, president and CEO of Dana-Farber. “This new Center for Protein Degradation will be a critical focal point in a vibrant community of accomplished scientists and investigators.”
“In creating the Center for Protein Degradation, we can advance science and identify multiple novel therapeutics targeted at ending cancers. We are thrilled to be collaborating with Dr. Gray, Dr. Fischer and the entire Dana-Farber team in this first of its kind collaboration,” stated James Flynn, managing partner at Deerfield.
“Protein degradation is potentially a key to unlocking cures for cancer,” commented William Slattery, partner at Deerfield. “The examination of targets with this expertise will create a pathway that goes beyond the normal confines of drug development.”
Paul Hastings, LLP acted as legal counsel to Deerfield. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute was represented by Wolf, Greenfield and Sacks, P.C. and McDermott Will & Emery.