USA – Amgen and Generate Biomedicines have formed a collaboration to discover and develop protein therapeutics for five clinical targets.

Amgen will pay US$50 million in upfront funding for five initial programs as part of the agreement, and will be liable for up to US$1.9 billion in future royalties.

Amgen can also nominate up to five additional programs for a fee. Amgen will pay up to US$370 million in milestones and royalties in the low double digits for each program. Amgen will participate in a future Generate financing round.

To discover new drugs, Generate Bio employs artificial intelligence and machine learning to develop novel protein therapies.

Amgen Executive VP of Research and Development David Reese, M.D., stated that Generate’s integrated in silico design and wet lab capabilities, when combined with his company’s protein engineering capabilities, can help to accelerate drug discovery efforts.

Amgen has already delved into generative biology, which employs artificial intelligence and machine learning to program novel protein therapeutics.

The company made investments in wet lab high throughput automation and dry lab computational biology, as well as establishing a new Digital Biologics Discovery group.

According to Amgen, the goal is to develop new drugs quickly, with predictable manufacturing and clinical behavior.

Flagship Pioneering, the venture capital firm behind Moderna, founded Generate. CEO Mike Nally not only leads the AI specialist, but he is also a CEO-partner at Flagship.

In November 2021, the biotech received a massive US$370 million series B funding to support clinical trials in 2023.

Flagship Pioneering participated in the round, as did several institutional co-investors, including an Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) wholly-owned subsidiary, the Alaska Permanent Fund, Altitude Life Science Ventures, ARCH Venture Partners, Fidelity Management & Research Company, Morningside Ventures, and funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates.

At the time, Mike Nally, Generate’s chief executive officer and CEO-partner of Flagship Pioneering, said, “Generate is deploying machine learning at scale to understand the genetic code underlying the function of proteins. We are pioneering the field of Generative Biology—a revolutionary approach to drug development that allows us to program novel protein therapeutics capable of performing almost any desired biological function.”

Amgen believes the same thing. Inflammation, oncology, and cardiometabolism are three of Amgen’s primary research areas. Amgen acquired Teneobio in July 2021 for US$900 million upfront and milestone payments that could total US$1.6 billion in cash.

Teneobio is a company that creates bispecific and multispecific antibody technologies. In addition to Teneobio’s T-cell engager platform, this deal and the one with Generate complement Amgen’s antibody capabilities and a heavy-chain-only platform that provides a streamlined, sequence-based discovery approach for target binders.

As part of this combination of wet lab high-throughput automation and dry lab computational biology, Amgen is establishing a Digital Biologics Discovery group.

The goal now is to combine Amgen’s biologics drug discovery expertise with Generate Bio’s AI platform in the hopes of more efficiently and effectively identifying and designing multispecific antibodies.

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