Translucent robotic looking hand holding a test tube next to a screen showing code and a digital pill to symbolize the use of AI to develop new protein phase separation drugs
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Roche has inked a collaboration potentially worth more than $2B with precision oncology company MOMA Therapeutics. The deal provides the big pharma with access to MOMA’s proprietary KnowledgeBase platform, which was built to identify novel drug targets involved in promoting cancer cell growth and survival.

This follows a $50 million upfront deal Roche made with China-based MediLink Therapeutics around an antibody-drug conjugate (ADC). MediLink also recently made a deal with BioNTech for development of a next-generation ADC. These have been a piping hot commodity this year, netting several deals worth potentially $1B or more.

MOMA says, on its website, that it focuses on the over 400 proteins in “the molecular machine [cancer driver] family and they govern diverse processes within cells. DNA replication and repair, biomolecular transport and protein homeostasis to name a few. Their enzymatic output depends on the machines cycling through a series of ordered and large-scale conformational changes.”

“It is exciting to utilize our industry-leading knowledge in how to identify and drug highly dynamic proteins to deliver on a breadth of discovery programs in partnership with Roche,” said Peter Hammerman, MD, PhD, chief scientific officer and head of development at MOMA. “Along with bringing two MOMA-owned high-impact programs to the clinic next year, we are making exciting progress towards our goal of addressing key unmet needs for patients living with advanced cancer,” he added.

MOMA’s KnowledgeBase was built upon “the concept that functionally related targets lacking sequence homology still possess three dimensional structural motifs that can be exploited to produce highly impactful therapies. MOMA has used the platform to accelerate drug discovery in the ATPase target class,” according to the company’s release.

“The vision for this collaboration was crafted jointly with Roche to enable each party to bring its strengths in pursuit of this shared goal. It also contributes to the long-term sustainability of MOMA’s core focus as we advance our rich pipeline of precision oncology programs to the clinic,” said Asit Parikh, MD, PhD, chief executive officer of MOMA.

MOMA will receive $66 million as an upfront cash payment and is also eligible to receive discovery, development, and commercialization milestone payments potentially exceeding $2B, as well as tiered royalties. MOMA will be primarily responsible for all activities for selected targets through to development candidate confirmation, whereas Roche will be responsible for IND-enabling activities and clinical development and commercialization. Additionally, if multiple collaboration assets reach pivotal clinical studies, MOMA will receive a right to co-fund late-stage development of one product in exchange for increased royalties in the U.S. on this product.

“We are excited to join forces with MOMA, combining our leadership in oncology with MOMA’s deep expertise in drug discovery for difficult-to-drug and novel targets in oncology. The broader field of cancer dependencies is of high importance for Roche and we are looking forward to further deepening our knowledge and discovering novel targets involved in cancer cell growth and survival leveraging MOMA’s innovative platform,” said James Sabry, MD, PhD, global head of pharma partnering, Roche.

MOMA is also pursuing two lead development stage programs, for which it anticipates filing Investigational New Drug (IND) applications with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2024. These assets, along with multiple earlier projects, comprise the company’s portfolio.

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