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Choosing the right Ensemble
September 2013
by Lori Lesko  |  Email the author


CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—After successfully forming partnerships with six leading pharmaceuticals to gain access to its macrocyclic technology, Ensemble Therapeutics has formed a strategic development agreement with Novartis for Ensemble's most advanced proprietary program that targets the inflammatory cytokine IL-17, and for a new program to discover novel small-molecule treatments against undisclosed drug targets specified by Novartis using Ensemble's proprietary drug discovery platforms.
Under the terms of the two-pronged research and development agreement, Ensemble will receive an undisclosed upfront payment from Novartis and potential success-based development and sales milestone payments, according to an Aug. 6 news release. In addition, Ensemble will receive tiered royalties on potential future sales of products that may arise from the collaboration. Novartis will also provide research funding to Ensemble during the term of the collaboration. Novartis will also provide research funding to Ensemble during the term of the collaboration. Both companies declined to discuss the financials of this collaboration.  
"We are very pleased to enter into this collaboration with Novartis, a clear leader in the development of treatments for IL-17-dependent inflammation and autoimmune diseases," Ensemble CEO Michael D. Taylor stated in a news release. "Novartis has recognized the strength of Ensemble's orally bioavailable drug candidates against this difficult-to-drug protein/protein interaction target, and we believe Novartis is the best-suited pharmaceutical company to partner with us to rapidly develop and market important new medicines for the treatment of IL-17-mediated disease. The discovery component of our alliance reinforces the mutual commitment to advance candidates from Ensemble's macrocycle-based chemistry."
This is Ensemble's second global partnership in the last month (the other is with Alexion) and sixth collaboration with Big Pharma overall (the company is also working with Boehringer Ingelheim, Genentech, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. and Pfizer Inc.) to gain access to Ensemble's technology to develop oral, small-molecule macrocycles to address many protein targets that cannot be modulated effectively by traditional small-molecule pharmaceutical compounds.  
The door opened for significant interest in Ensemble's macrocyclic technology after the company presented validating data at the 2013 American College of Rheumatology (ACR) meeting on its class of IL-17 antagonists with the potential for first-in-class, orally active, small-molecule inhibitors of this important, clinically validated anti-inflammatory target. As a result, the partnered IL-17 program with Novartis is the most advanced partnered compound in Ensemble's product pipeline, the company reports.  
Ensemble has made strong progress in leveraging its macrocycle drug discovery expertise to fuel its proprietary pipeline while also pursuing collaborations with pharmaceutical partners. Ensemble's internal discovery and development efforts are focused on the key therapeutic areas of oncology and immuno-inflammatory diseases. To date, Ensemble has raised $38.5 million in equity financing.   Ensemble is developing a novel class of therapeutics called Ensemblins that open up new ways to treat diseases by addressing drug targets that are currently inaccessible with conventional small-molecule drugs. With their expansive macrocyclic structure, Ensemblins are a new class of drugs in the emerging therapeutic space between small molecules and biologics. Ensemblins are orally active therapeutics with unique properties for binding to human disease targets such as protein/protein interaction targets, including targets with extended binding domains that are currently only addressable with costly and inconvenient injectable biologic drugs, or that are intracellular and therefore not accessible by such biologics.
With its proprietary drug discovery platforms and Ensemblin compound libraries, which now exceed 10 million macrocycles, Ensemble is the first company to successfully and reliably engineer synthetic macrocycle drugs, a class of compounds that have traditionally existed principally as natural products but have resulted in more than 100 marketed products.  
Code: E091323



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