Amgen Taps Generate to Discover Multi-Target Protein Drugs in $1.9+ Billion Deal

by Joy Lin
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Generate has a lot to live up to. The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company has just secured a deal with Amgen to develop protein therapeutics across five targets – with an option to collaborate on five more. The partnership is estimated to bring in over $1.9 billion for Generate.

Amgen is paying Generate $50 million upfront for the first five programs, and will make milestone payments for up to $370 million for each program. Generate could also stand to receive low double digit royalties for product sales. 

Amgen has also agreed to take part in a future financing round for Generate. 

AI to Generate Protein-based Biologics 


Generate was founded in 2018 by American life sciences venture capital firm and Moderna investor Flagship Pioneering. After spending two years building up its foundational research in Flagship’s Labs unit, Generate launched in September 2020 with an initial investment of $50 million from its parent. A little more than a year later, Generate raked in $370 million in Series B financing to scale up its operations and advance its main agenda – discovering novel protein-based drugs using artificial intelligence. 

Generate analyzes hundreds of millions of known protein structures on its AI-powered platform to learn the patterns and rules that govern protein function. The scientists behind the platform think that they can use the learned patterns to sequence novel proteins with therapeutic functions, all the while slashing the time needed for drug discovery. They called this approach generative biology.

The company has touted the speed of their approach, saying in 2020 that they had managed to generate 100 potential antibodies against Covid-19 in the space of only 17 days, and narrowed the candidates down to the ones that show the best effect. 

Besides antibodies, Generate has mentioned that their platform can also rapidly generate peptides, enzymes, and cell and gene therapies to meet diverse therapeutic needs. 

Amgen now wants to get behind Generate’s technology, having invested in generative biology with the creation of a Digital Biologics Discovery Group. 

“We are now at a scientific hinge point, where computational approaches can advance our knowledge of biology and further drive our ability to design the right molecule for some of the most challenging targets,” said David Reese, executive vice president of Research and Development at Amgen. ​

“We believe Generate Biomedicine’s integrated in silico design and wet lab capabilities combined with Amgen’s strength in protein engineering can accelerate our drug discovery efforts, generating novel protein sequences with optimal therapeutic properties.”

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