BridGene Biosciences has signed a strategic collaboration and licensing agreement with Belgian pharmaceutical company Galapagos for the discovery of small molecule oncology drugs.

The partnership is intended to discover and develop new precision medicines against clinically validated oncology targets named by Galapagos.

The deal combines Galapagos’ expertise in small molecule drug discovery and translational research along with BridGene’s proprietary IMTAC chemoproteomics platform, designed for hard-to-drug targets.

Under the terms of the agreement, the molecules will be advanced into clinical candidates by the parties, and Galapagos will have sole rights to the advancement and commercialisation of any product candidates.

Galapagos senior vice president and small molecules discovery head Pierre Raboisson said: “BridGene’s proven expertise in discovering small molecule drugs for challenging targets positions them as an ideal partner in pioneering new avenues in oncology drug discovery.

“By integrating BridGene’s innovative platform with our robust capabilities in drug discovery and clinical development, we are poised to develop breakthrough cancer therapies. Our goal is to deliver transformative precision medicines for cancer with limited treatment options.”

Under the deal, US-based BridGene will receive $27m in upfront and preclinical research milestone payments from the Belgian pharma firm.

In addition, Galapagos will also get over $700m in clinical and commercial milestones, assuming the success of the programmes.

Furthermore, the biotechnology firm will be eligible to receive single-digit tiered royalties on net sales of each product resulting from the collaboration.

BridGene Biosciences co-founder and CEO Ping Cao said: “We are excited to collaborate with Galapagos in the discovery of new drugs targeting critical and challenging targets in oncology.

“The depth of Galapagos’ scientific expertise in oncology aligns perfectly with our capabilities and this collaboration will further reinforce our strong track record in identifying drugs for difficult targets.

“Partnering is a fundamental strategy for BridGene. We aim to create collaborations that significantly boost the likelihood of success.

“This is achieved by integrating our innovative discovery platform and expertise in tackling “hard-to-drug” targets with the wide-ranging scientific, clinical, and commercial expertise of partners like Galapagos.”