Galapagos wants to find new small molecule species for cancer with BridGene

Galapagos wants to find new small molecule species for cancer with BridGene

BridGene Biosciences has arrived on Galapagos island thanks to a $27 million upfront deal to develop new small molecule drugs for cancer.

The biotech will also be up for $700 million in clinical and commercial milestone payments if any of the candidates are successful, plus royalties on resulting sales.

The companies did not disclose exactly how many targets they will go after but did say cancer is the goal. Galapagos—a company deep in the rebuilding phase—has a pipeline featuring five small molecules in autoimmune disorders and CAR-Ts for cancer. So the BridGene deal marks an entry into slightly new—but familiar—territory.

BridGene will use its chemoproteomics platform called IMTAC, which focuses on “hard-to-drug” targets, to discover the new small molecules. The biotech has four oncology programs in the works, all preclinical, plus a partnership with Takeda to work on “undruggable” targets for neurodegenerative disease. That deal, signed in 2021, was worth $500 million if all milestones were met.

Galapagos has had a tough few years of rebuilding after its pipeline failed to deliver. The past two years have brought layoffs and a pivot to CAR-T therapy, with several deals executed under CEO Paul Stoffels, M.D., to build up capacity in the new modality.

One place the Belgian company has not been lacking is in cash flow, with a reported 3.9 billion euros ($4.3 billion) on hand to deploy for business development as of the end of September 2023.

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