2022-01-05| Asia-Pacific

Roche Looks for Peptide-Like Small Molecules with Prism BioLab, joining Merck, Eisai and Boehringer Ingelheim

by Joy Lin
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Prism BioLab, a Japanese biotech company that specializes in discovering peptide-like small molecules, has found another big client in Roche and Genentech (a Roche company). Prism has previously formed drug discovery deals with several notable pharmas, including Merck, Eisai and Boehringer Ingelheim. 

Under the deal, Prism will leverage its library of peptide mimetic small molecules to screen against targets picked by Roche and Genentech. The companies may opt to further develop and commercialize identified hit compounds. 

While financial details of the agreement are undisclosed, Prism is expected to receive an upfront payment and milestone payments as well as royalties on future sales.  

Multiple Deals for Peptide Mimetics 


Prism uses its drug discovery platform to design peptide mimetic small molecules to mimic the function of natural peptides. Specifically, compounds are designed to resemble α-helix and β-turn peptides that are found in the secondary structure of proteins. These motifs, or loops, folds or coils, are essential in the interactions between proteins. 

The company has a virtual library of 250 million molecules, and could assemble 200,000 on demand. 

Using the platform, Prism has created and licensed two molecules, PRI724 and E7386, that have since entered clinical trials. 

The clinical assets inhibit CBP and β-catenin, targets which Prism says were once thought to be undruggable. 

E7386 was licensed to Eisai as a cancer drug for solid tumors. It is being investigated in a Phase 1 trial as a monotherapy for solid tumors and a Phase 1b trial in combination with lenvatinib mesylate for solid tumors including hepatocellular carcinoma. Last November, Eisai announced clinical proof of concept of E7386, and began a Phase 1b/2 trial for solid tumors in collaboration with Merck. 

PRI-724 was licensed to Ohara Pharmaceuticals in 2018. Originally developed as a cancer drug, a study found that PRI-724 displays anti-fibrotic and fibrolytic activities. It is now being developed in Phase 2 trials for cirrhosis, or scarring of the liver. 

Prism has also struck deals over multiple targets with Boehringer Ingelheim, Merck, Servier and InveniAI.

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