December 18, 2023

2 Min Read
Cancer
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C4 Therapeutics has collaborated with Merck & Co. to develop degrader-antibody conjugates (DACs) to specifically target and neutralize cancer cells’ disease-causing proteins using its Torpedo platform. 

As per the agreement, C4 Therapeutics (C4T) will use its proprietary Torpedo platform to develop DACs. Whereas Merck (known as MSD outside North America) will be responsible for antibody conjugation to develop DACs through preclinical and clinical stage as well as commercialization.  

While the more-commonly known antibody drug conjugates (ADCs) use a chemical linker to combine antibodies with small molecule payloads, DACs combine antibodies with a proteolysis targeting chimera (PROTAC) payload. The former use antibodies to carry toxins to destroy the tumor cells, while the latter instead mark tumor cells for degradation by the proteasome system.

A clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, C4T aims to target protein degradation science to develop a new generation of small molecule medicines and transform how disease is treated and will receive $10 million upfront. 

According to the firm, the Target Oriented Protein Degrader Optimizer (Torpedo) platform has the capability to target almost any disease-causing protein. It is a collection of experimental approaches and tools to design, analyze and predict degrader performance to enhance potency and selectivity. The platform uses cell-based assays to measure degradation of disease-causing targets to assess individual degrader performance. 

“We are thrilled to collaborate with Merck to innovate within the growing field of antibody-drug conjugates and evaluate the potential for combining the catalytic efficiency, potency, target specificity, and durability of degraders with the specific binding and delivery capabilities of antibodies,” said Andrew Hirsch, CEO of C4 Therapeutics.  

“We look forward to leveraging our powerful Torpedo platform in collaboration with Merck’s antibody-drug conjugation expertise to engineer novel medicines with the potential to transform patients’ lives.” 

With an aim to develop DACs for an undisclosed oncology target, C4T is expected to receive approximately $600 million as milestone payments along with royalties.  

According to the agreement, Merck can extend the collaboration to three additional targets which will consequently make C4T eligible to receive potential payments of approximately $2.5 billion. 

C4T did not respond when contacted by this publication. 

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