Table 1. Selected recent deals and partnerships in the epigenetics space. The January 2012 deal between the Genentech Inc. unit of Roche and Constellation Pharmaceuticals Inc. set off a new wave of dealmaking activity in the epigenetics space. Celgene Corp. made a $15 million equity investment in Acetylon Pharmaceuticals Inc. that gave the biopharma an observational seat on Acetylon's board and followed up with the Epizyme Inc. partnership that included a $90 million up-front payment and equity investment in the now-public company. Celgene then announced in July that it paid $100 million up front in exchange for an exclusive option to acquire the company. Other notable deals include GlaxoSmithKline plc taking out Cellzome AG and Rodin Therapeutics Inc.'s partnership with Proteros biostructures GmbH and Johnson & Johnson to develop new therapies for CNS diseases.
Source: BioCentury Archives


Deal focus

Financial terms


Constellation Pharmaceuticals; Genentech

Three-year partnership to use Constellation's platform to discover and develop small molecules against undisclosed epigenetic targets for cancer and other diseases; excludes rights to BET family of bromodomain-containing proteins and enhancer of zeste homolog 2 (EZH2)

Constellation receives $95 million up front plus research funding and is eligible for undisclosed milestones and royalties; Genentech has option to acquire Constellation

January 2012

Acetylon Pharmaceuticals; Celgene (NASDAQ:CELG)

Celgene takes equity stake in selective histone deacetylase inhibitor developer Acetylon; gets an observational, nonvoting board seat at Acetylon but does not receive rights or options to any technology

Celgene makes $15 million equity investment in Acetylon

February 2012

Celgene; Epizyme (NASDAQ:EPZM)

Partnership to discover, develop and commercialize cancer therapeutics that inhibit histone methyltransferases; Celgene gets ex-U.S. rights to B7 and has an exclusive, three-year option to license ex-U.S. rights for unpartnered histone methyltransferase inhibitors, with a potential one-year extension

Epizyme receives $90 million up front, which includes an undisclosed minority equity investment; Epizyme is eligible for more than $160 million in milestones for each licensed program, plus double-digit royalties on ex-U.S. sales

April 2012

Cellzome AG; GlaxoSmithKline (LSE:GSK; NYSE:GSK)

GSK acquires Cellzome; companies had partnered in 2010 to discover small molecules against epigenetic targets

GSK acquires the 80.02% of Cellzome it does not already own for £61 million ($98 million) in cash

May 2012

Oncoethix S.A.; Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corp. (Tokyo:4508; Osaka:4508)

Oncoethix gets exclusive, worldwide rights to BET bromodomain inhibitor OTX015 and will develop the compound to treat leukemia and other hematologic malignancies; Mitsubishi retains rights to OTX015 in certain Asian countries


June 2012

Life Technologies Corp. (NASDAQ:LIFE);A Structural Genomics Consortium; The University of Chicago; University of Toronto

Partnership to develop and commercialize recombinant antibodies against epigenetic targets


July 2012

Astex Pharmaceuticals Inc.;B Cancer Research UK; The Institute of Cancer Research

Partnership to discover and develop oral therapies against an undisclosed epigenetic target in a blood cancer

Astex and Institute of Cancer Research share undisclosed funding from Cancer Research UK

September 2012

Constellation; Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

LLS to provide funding to support development of Constellation's small molecule BET inhibitors to treat hematologic malignancies through Phase I testing

LLS will provide up to $7.5 million

September 2012

Evotec AG (Xetra:EVT);
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Partnership to discover and commercialize cancer treatments that target epigenetic drug mechanisms; partners will validate epigenetic targets and demonstrate the druggability of selected target families


May 2013

Proteros biostructures; Rodin Therapeutics; Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ)

Neurology epigenetics startup Rodin partners with Proteros, J&J's Janssen Research & Development LLC unit and the pharma's Boston Innovation Center; Proteros gives Rodin access to its structural biology platform and will help with early drug discovery work around screening, profiling and early chemical optimization

Rodin has undisclosed financing from Atlas Venture and Johnson & Johnson Development Corp.; Proteros gets an equity stake in Rodin

June 2013

Acetylon; Celgene

Celgene gets exclusive option to acquire Acetylon

Acetylon receives $100 million up front; if Celgene exercises the option, Acetylon will receive at least $500 million up front and Acetylon shareholders would be eligible for up to $250 million in regulatory milestones and up to $850 million in sales milestones

July 2013

Astex; Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd.

Otsuka acquires Astex

Otsuka acquired Astex for $8.50 per share, or about $866 million in cash

September 2013

ABeing acquired by Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. (NYSE:TMO). BAcquired by Otsuka Pharmaceutical.