Cambridge-based Epizyme Inc. will be getting a $4 million milestone payment from its collaboration partner GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) now that it has reached a certain pre-clinical stage in the development of potential enzyme-based cancer treatments.
Epizyme is working with GSK to research potential small molecule therapeutics that target a class of epigenetic enzymes, called histone methyltransferases (HMTs), in treating cancer. Under the terms of the agreement, entered into in January, Epizyme will conduct the research into the epigenetic enzymes, while GlaxoSmithKline will cover any possible development and commercialization of resulting therapeutics. Epizyme won an initial $20 million upfront payment from GSK, in addition to research funding.
The $4 million milestone payment is the first in what could be more than $630 million in milestone payments if the enzymes reach commercialization, in which case Epizyme may also take in further royalties stemming from net product sales. When the deal was announced, Epizyme landed $20 million from GSK as an up front payment.
Earlier in January of this year, Epizyme was one of three Boston-area biotechs, and one of 11 biotechs nationally, to receive a $1 million research award from the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation under the MMRF’s Biotech Investment Awards Program.
In June 2011, Epizyme queued up a potential $7.5 million in milestone payments from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society for the development of the company’s DOT1L-targeted histone methyltransferase inhibitor for Mixed Lineage Leukemia (MLL), a blood cancer that can hit both pediatric and adult patients.
Sticking with the partnership model, in March Epizyme partnered with Japanese firm Eisai Co. Ltd. in a deal that could bring in more than $200 million. The partnership centers around the development and commercialization of new treatments aimed at the epigenetic enzyme, EZH2, for lymphoma and genetically-defined cancers.