The two companies will pair up to identify novel target proteins expressed in the central nervous system for the development of therapies targeting GI disorders. Scientists from the companies will select, confirm and validate targets from rich gene expression data sets generated by Cerevance’s NETSseq technology, which sorts and profiles specific neuronal and glial cell types in post-mortem human central nervous system tissue at unparalleled depth.
The NETSseq platform, which was developed at Rockefeller University, enabled researchers to comprehensively profile-specific brain cell types, including both neurons and glial cells. This approach involved the use of antibodies against nuclear proteins endoplasmic reticulum proteins and membrane proteins, as well as RNA probes against any cell-type-specific transcripts. The probes, Cerevance said, tag specific cell types in brain tissue in order to sort their nuclei. It is believed that some cell types found in the brain can impact the development of GI diseases, which is what brought Takeda to the table.
As part of the agreement, Cerevance is eligible to receive development, commercialization and net sales-based milestone payments that may exceed $170 million on a per-target basis. In addition to the per target payments, Cerevance also received an undisclosed upfront technology access fee, as well as research support payments.
Cerevance and Takeda are no strangers. In 2016, Takeda helped launch Cerevance with support of its $21.5 million Series A financing round and also housed the startup at its Cambridge, U.K. location. Additionally, Takeda provided Cerevance with a 25-member neuroscience research team.
Gareth Hicks, head of the Gastrointestinal Drug Discovery Unit at Takeda, said the collaboration with Cerevance will allow researchers to access a highly innovative technology to identify new and unique targets for the treatment of GI disorders. Hicks also expressed excitement about working with the scientific team from Cerevance. The combined teams will “drive forward our mission to provide new therapies for the highest unmet medical needs of patients with GI diseases,” Hicks added.
Cerevance Chief Scientific Officer Mark Carlton, who also co-founded the company, also expressed excitement for the collaboration.
“We are thrilled to be collaborating with Takeda on this comprehensive effort to create novel therapies for patients suffering from GI disorders that can be targeted via modulation of CNS pathways. The GI expertise of Takeda’s research organization is world-renowned. We are looking forward to applying our powerful NETSseq CNS drug target identification platform to GI diseases with the Takeda team,” Carlton said in a statement.