Phenomic AI inks second deal in two days, Shape stretches Roche collab

Phenomic AI inks second deal in two days, Shape stretches Roche collab

Phenomic AI has largely lived off the grid since launching more than three years ago, but it’s now sprinting onto the scene with a second collaboration in as many days, this time with Astellas.

Twenty-four hours after announcing a target identification deal with Boehringer Ingelheim worth more than $500 million, Phenomic is back. The terms of the deal with Astellas-owned cell therapy biotech Xyphos Biosciences weren’t disclosed Thursday but Phenomic says the work will involve an antibody for the tumor stroma target identified by its scTx platform.

“I think you’ll hear more from us very soon in terms of collaborations, in terms of the pipeline [and] the company more broadly,” CEO Girish Aakalu, Ph.D., said in an interview on Monday ahead of the Boehringer deal. Evidently “very soon” meant one day.

Aakalu said at the time that the company was also advancing an internal pipeline, with a lead asset aimed at a novel solid tumor target, CTHRC1. The full list of assets in the works has yet to be disclosed but Aakalu teed up 2024 as a year to watch. He was conscientious of not overloading his staff—some 20 people across Toronto and Massachusetts—with too much work too quickly.

“ScTx, our platform, delivers more ideas than we can really take advantage of,” he said. “And so we’ll ultimately need to be able to balance how much effort are we spending on partnership versus internal drug discovery.”

Phenomic was not the only AI biotech to tout new business development work Thursday. ShapeTX is expanding a collaboration with Roche after the Swiss pharma tacked on a new target to the partnership first announced in August 2021. The biotech hopes to use its RNA-editing platform to design “a potential one-time therapy for patients with high unmet needs for an undisclosed disease affecting millions of people worldwide.”

Financial details were kept under wraps but Shape will earn a milestone payment with the potential for additional biobucks. Shape will take on early preclinical development with Roche responsible for preclinical finishing touches, clinical development and commercialization.

The expanded deal with Roche comes less than three months after Shape inked an eye disease-focused deal with Otsuka worth $1.5 billion. The company raised a $112 million series B back in July 2021, which was slated to be spent in part on growing the RNA technology into “broad industry verticals.”

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