Boehringer Ingelheim collaborates with Proxygen to explore molecular glue degraders – a novel approach to fight cancer

  • Proxygen’s unique molecular glue degrader discovery platform complements Boehringer Ingelheim’s focus on proteolysis targeting chimeras (PROTACs) in the aim of degrading cancer drivers that were previously considered undruggable.
  • New collaboration strengthens Boehringer Ingelheim’s cancer research strategy to develop novel treatment options for patients with lung or gastrointestinal cancers.

Ingelheim, Germany and Vienna, Austria, 07 December 2020 – Boehringer Ingelheim and Proxygen today announced they have entered into a collaboration and license agreement to enable the identification of molecular glue degraders against various oncogenic targets. The collaboration combines Proxygen’s unique molecular glue degrader discovery platform and its expertise in targeted protein degradation with Boehringer Ingelheim’s long-term strategy to provide first-in-class, breakthrough therapies for cancer patients.

Molecular glue degraders and PROTACs harness the power of the cell’s recycling machinery to selectively eliminate disease-causing proteins. Molecular glue degraders achieve this by specifically bridging the distance between target proteins and ubiquitin ligases, which consequently flag the target proteins for rapid degradation. Molecular glues orchestrate this protein-protein proximity through highly cooperative binding. They circumvent the need for a defined binding pocket on the surface of the target protein, a requirement for conventional small molecule drugs, allowing pharmaceutical intervention on proteins that were previously considered undruggable.

“Proxygen’s molecular glue degrader platform has the potential to become a valuable component of Boehringer Ingelheim’s cancer research strategy to treat tumors driven by the most frequently mutated cancer-causing proteins that were previously considered undruggable and to further expand our efforts in the area of targeted protein degradation,” says Norbert Kraut, Global Head of Cancer Research at Boehringer Ingelheim. “We are very pleased to partner with Proxygen, complementing our efforts in taking difficult-to-treat cancers on.”

The identification of molecular glue degraders has been serendipitous up to this point. Proxygen’s highly scalable and broadly applicable molecular glue discovery platform promises a goal-oriented and comprehensive avenue towards an improved identification of molecular glue degrader candidates.

“We are very excited to join forces with Boehringer Ingelheim,” says Bernhard Boidol, Chief Executive Officer of Proxygen. “Working together with a leader in innovative oncological research and development not only validates the broad applicability of our molecular glue degrader platform but also allows us to rapidly develop new therapies for the high unmet medical need of many patients with lung and colorectal cancers.”

Proxygen’s new method has recently been recognized by Boehringer Ingelheim through its Grass Roots ‘Innovation Prize’ in Vienna, Austria. The ‘Innovation Prize’ recognizes the innovation power of young life-science companies and bio-entrepreneurs to create and sustain pipelines for the next generation of medicines. Launched in 2015, the Grass Roots programs comprise of ‘Office Hours,’ ‘Academy’ and the ‘Innovation Prize.’ As a company dedicated to improving health and quality of life, these programs give Boehringer Ingelheim the opportunity to lend expertise to the early-stage innovation community and offer guidance around the science to help enable ideas to deliver the next breakthroughs.

Proxygen is entitled to receive up-front payments, research and development support and milestone gated development payments, as well as tiered royalties based on future commercial sales of developed products.

 

Boehringer Ingelheim

Making new and better medicines for humans and animals is at the heart of what we do. Our mission is to create breakthrough therapies that change lives. Since its founding in 1885, Boehringer Ingelheim is independent and family-owned. We have the freedom to pursue our long-term vision, looking ahead to identify the health challenges of the future and targeting those areas of need where we can do the most good.

As a world-leading, research-driven pharmaceutical company, more than 51,000 employees create value through innovation daily for our three business areas: Human Pharma, Animal Health, and Biopharmaceutical Contract Manufacturing. In 2019, Boehringer Ingelheim achieved net sales of 19 billion euros. Our significant investment of almost 3.5 billion euros in R&D drives innovation, enabling the next generation of medicines that save lives and improve quality of life.

We realize more scientific opportunities by embracing the power of partnership and diversity of experts across the life-science community. By working together, we accelerate the delivery of the next medical breakthrough that will transform the lives of patients now, and in generations to come.

More information about Boehringer Ingelheim can be found at www.boehringer-ingelheim.com or in our annual report: http://annualreport.boehringer-ingelheim.com.

 

Boehringer Ingelheim in Oncology

Cancer takes. Takes away time. Takes away loved ones. At Boehringer Ingelheim Oncology, we are giving patients new hope, by taking cancer on.  We are dedicated to collaborating with the oncology community on a shared journey to deliver leading science. Our primary focus is in lung and gastrointestinal cancers, with the goal of delivering breakthrough, first-in-class treatments that can help win the fight against cancer. Our commitment to innovation has resulted in pioneering treatments for lung cancer and we are advancing a unique pipeline of cancer cell directed agents, immuno-oncology therapies and intelligent combination approaches to help combat many cancers.

 

About Proxygen

Proxygen develops therapies against cancer and other life-threatening diseases by reprogramming the cellular protein quality control system through particular drugs called “molecular glue degraders”. Instead of only blocking the activity of harmful proteins, these molecules enable their complete, targeted, and selective elimination. This outlines a clear avenue towards targeting proteins that are known to be major drivers of disease but have so far not been tractable via the traditional drug discovery paradigm. Because of this, molecular glue degraders are considered one of the most promising therapeutic innovations of the last decades. Based in Vienna and founded as a spin-out from CeMM, the Center for Molecular Medicine of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Proxygen harnesses its proprietary discovery engine to systematically screen for novel molecular glue degraders with the ultimate goal to bring these molecules to the clinic.

More information about Proxygen can be found at www.proxygen.com.

 

Contacts at Proxygen:
Bernhard Boidol, PhD 

Chief Executive Officer
Proxygen GmbH
T: +43 (0) 1 226 1030
office@proxygen.com

 

Contacts at Boehringer Ingelheim:
Dr. Reinhard Malin

Head of Communications Innovation Unit
Boehringer Ingelheim Corporate Center GmbH
Media + PR
P: +49 6132 77-90815
press@boehringer-ingelheim.com

Sarah Soetbeer 
Junior Product Communications Manager
Boehringer Ingelheim Corporate Center GmbH
Media + PR
P: +49 6132 77-183874
press@boehringer-ingelheim.com

Linda Ruckel 
Senior Associate Director, Media and Corporate Reputation
Boehringer Ingelheim U.S.
Media + PR
Tel.: +1 203-791-6672
​press@boehringer-ingelheim.com

 

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