Roivant Sciences has secured $200 million to advance its protein degradation ambitions. Armed with the money, Roivant CEO Vivek Ramaswamy plans to use the VantAI platform to spawn multiple new biotech startups.
The potential for protein degraders to unlock validated but formerly inaccessible targets has caught the attention of multiple groups, leading to the formation of a clutch of biotechs that have gone on to land deals with large biopharma partners. Now, Roivant has revealed its play for the nascent drug discovery opportunity.
Roivant is building its push into protein degradation around VantAI, a computational drug discovery platform. Armed with proprietary tools for designing and optimizing candidates, VantAI has created protein degraders for six targets so far.
The first candidate is due to enter the clinic next year. As more candidates come down the pipeline, Roivant plans to build multiple biotechs, dubbed Vants, around the fruits of the VantAI platform.
Separately, Roivant has bought Oncopia Therapeutics, a biotech that spun out of the University of Michigan with BET and MDM2 degrader technologies with potential applications in the treatment of diseases including prostate cancer. Roivant has also expanded a partnership with the University of Michigan to support the work of Oncopia co-founder Shaomeng Wang, Ph.D.
Roivant has tapped Korea’s SK Holdings to fund its push into the field. SK Holdings is investing $200 million in the platform. The conglomerate is exposed to the biopharma market through its SK Biopharmaceutical and SK Pharmteco units. SK Holdings CEO Dong Hyun Jang said further collaboration with Roivant on “other aspects of healthcare with a long-term vision” is possible.
SK Holdings’ willingness to bet on protein degradation establishes Roivant as a well-resourced player in an emerging area currently fought over by companies including Arvinas, C4, Kymera and Nurix, all of which have gone public and landed partnerships with large biopharma companies in recent years.