Agios Pulls in $20M From Celgene, Under Extended Cancer Metabolism Partnership

Xconomy Boston — 

Cambridge, MA-based Agios Pharmaceuticals struck a lucrative partnership with Celgene last year that just got more lucrative.

Agios, the developer of drugs that seek to starve tumors to death by blocking metabolic pathways they rely on, said today it has extended its exclusive partnership with Summit, NJ-based Celgene (NASDAQ: CELG) from three years to four, and that Celgene is paying $20 million to Agios for the privilege. Celgene has the option to extend the collaboration even further, Agios said.

The original deal was struck back in April 2010, and provided Agios with the rich sum of $130 million upfront, including an equity investment from Celgene. Agios can also earn as much as $120 million in milestone payments for each drug Celgene may choose to license into its own internal pipeline for further development.

“In the first 18 months of our collaboration, we have made significant progress and have been extremely impressed by the caliber of the team, the science, and the unique research capabilities that Agios brings to this alliance,” said Thomas Daniel, Celgene’s president of research, in a statement.

All of this work is still at a very early stage of development. Agios hasn’t introduced any drug candidates into clinical trials, although it does list on its website a couple of molecular targets it is pursuing—PKM2 and IDH1/2. As Agios CEO David Schenkein, a former senior vice president at Genentech, told Reuters, “where we’ve demonstrated the most progress is identifying targets, validating them and creating small molecules to hit those targets.”

Agios raised a $33 million Series A financing round in 2008 from Third Rock Ventures, Flagship Ventures, and Arch Venture Partners.

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