Japan’s Astellas Pharma and PeptiDream have entered into a research collaboration and license agreement to discover novel protein degraders for two targets selected by Astellas.

The collaboration will combine PeptiDream’s Peptide Discovery Platform System (PDPS) technology with Astellas’ drug discovery capabilities.

Under the terms of the agreement, both companies will jointly discover multiple next-generation protein degraders for diverse targets, beyond existing technologies.

Astellas can select protein degraders for up to three additional targets, directed to undruggable targets that are difficult to approach with conventional technologies.

It will develop and commercialise products created from the collaborative research.

PeptiDream will receive an upfront payment of JPY3bn ($21m) and is eligible to receive milestone payments of up to JPY20bn per target, along with royalty on net sales.

Astellas chief strategy officer Adam Pearson said: “We hope this collaboration will bring synergies between the two companies’ cutting-edge research and will ultimately lead to the expansion of Astellas’ portfolio and development of new therapeutics for patients with significant unmet medical needs.”

Established in 2006, PeptiDream is focused on the translation of macrocyclic peptides into a new class of medicines to address unmet medical needs and improve the quality of life of patients.

Its Peptide Discovery Platform System (PDPS) technology is a versatile discovery platform that enables the production of highly diverse non-standard peptide libraries with high efficiency.

The PDPS technology helps identify highly potent and selective macrocyclic peptide candidates, which can be developed into peptide-based, small molecule-based, or peptide-drug conjugate (PDC) and multi-functional peptide conjugates (MPC)-based therapeutics and diagnostics.

Based in Kawasaki, Japan, PeptiDream has a global network of discovery and development partners and a diversified pipeline of investigational therapeutics.

The company also markets several radiopharmaceutical and radio diagnostic products in Japan, through its wholly-owned subsidiary, PDRadiopharma.

PeptiDream chief operating officer Keiichi Masuya said: “This transaction further validates the potential of our PDPS technology to obtain highly selective peptides, which enables creative approaches in the area of targeted protein degraders.

“We believe that through this research collaboration, we can leverage the strengths of both companies to advance the development of innovative drugs.”

Recently, Astellas completed the acquisition of IVERIC bio, through its indirect wholly-owned subsidiary Berry Merger Sub.