Dewpoint and Merck in $305m deal for HIV ‘cure’
Dewpoint Therapeutics is a biotech working under the premise that biomolecular condensates hold the potential to treat various conditions, including cancer, neurodegeneration, and metabolic diseases.
Through its partnership with Merck, known as MSD outside of the US and Canada, the biotech will now work to discover a drug candidate for HIV.
The biology at the center of Dewpoint’s work are biomolecular condensates, which the company describes as droplet-like structure that form within cells. The molecules consist of various proteins, RNAs, and other biomolecules.
According to Dewpoint, research suggests that the biomolecules could play a role in a wide range of biological functions and disease processes, including viral infection.
Merck has clearly seen enough from Dewpoint’s research to warrant an exclusive collaboration on HIV, with the biotech working on condensate-based drug discovery against HIV.
In addition, the biotech could receive up to $305m (€268m) in upfront and milestone payments, as well as royalties on any approved product.
The aim is not just to treat HIV but to cure those carrying HIV.
Ann Kwong, Dewpoint EVP of R&D, said, “Dewpoint and Merck will leverage Dewpoint’s expertise in condensates to develop an HIV drug candidate with a unique mechanism that may provide the potential to cure rather than suppress the infection.”
Dewpoint believes that its platform can target individual molecules and interacting groups of molecules within condensates to provide treatments for previously untreatable or uncurable diseases.
Merck is not the first company to show an interest in Dewpoint’s approach.
Last year, Bayer and the biotech agreed a research and licensing agreement to develop treatments for cardiovascular and gynecological diseases. Bayer was prepared to commit up to $100m to the partnership in return for exclusive license to any novel therapeutics discovered through the research.
In addition, last month Dewpoint added former Sanofi CEO, Olivier Brandicourt, to its board of directors, and Bayer’s head of Leaps, the company’s investment unit, Jürgen Eckhardt.