Ensemble Therapeutics, a biotechnology company developing Ensemblins, a novel class of small molecule therapeutics with the power of biologics, has initiated a two-part R&D collaboration with Novartis. The companies have entered into a strategic development agreement 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.
Ensemble will receive an upfront payment from Novartis and is also eligible to receive potential success-based development and sales milestone payments. 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.
Ensemble's class of IL-17 antagonists, licensed by Novartis, represent the potential for first-in-class, orally active, small molecule inhibitors of the clinically-validated target. The protein-protein nature of interaction of IL-17 with its receptor has made design of traditional small molecule pharmaceutical inhibitor difficult, so has been addressed to date with injectable protein therapeutics directed to the ligand. An orally-active inhibitor of IL-17 would have a profile complementary to the current class of clinical stage anti-IL-17 antibody products, which have shown compelling efficacy in multiple human clinical trials involving various inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.