IDEAYA and GSK partner to co-advance early stage assets in synthetic lethality

July 7, 20200

In our June2020 roundup, we had celebrated the continuing deal momentum despite pervasive cash conservation induced by COVID-19. While remaining encouraged by an overall level of partnership activity, we need to note that deals are now largely concentrated in licensing and co-development structures instead of outright acquisitions. There has been a fair level of appetite for platform technologies and research collaborations with high upstream strength. GSK–IDEAYA partnership announced in June adds to this current trend.

As Per transaction details disclosed by GSK and IDEAYA the partnership includes three assets under development by IDEAYA, MAT2A, Pol Theta and Werner Helicase. IDEAYA will receive USD 100 million in the form of upfront cash payment, USD 20 million equity purchase of its common stock. The co-development partnership includes USD 50 million option exercise fee payable by GSK to IDEAYA for the MAT2A program. IDEAYA will lead the program through early clinical milestones and will incur all costs till before GSK’s option exercise and 20% of global development costs thereafter. In addition to upfront and milestone fees, IDEAYA enjoys 50% profit share in US and ex-US royalties for both program, MAT2A and Werner Helicase. The Pol Theta program entails no profit share and reflects a standard licensing model with royalties. All the commercialization activities globally will be handled by GSK.

Headquartered in California, IDEAYA Biosciences is an oncology focused company driving research and advancement in the field of precision medicine. IDEAYA is focused on identification of translation biomarkers and its application in Synthetic Lethality where the venture has nurtured a strong pipeline with multiple programs in early preclinical stages and the following targets:

MAT2A Focused on deleting MTAP gene which occurs in about 15% of all solid tumors
Pol-theta Targeted on mutating genes involved in ovarian cancer tumors
PARG Found in tumors with BRCA2 mutation, with a prevalence in solid tumors
WRN Associated with 15% of colorectal cancer tumors


Synthetic lethality results from a combination of genetic deficiencies that lead to cell death while each one individually does not. The approach is now being increasingly exploited in the quest for cancer treatments to identify targets that are critical for survival of cancer cells. While one of the genes that act in combination are inactivated by mutation in the cancer patient, the other will be inactivated by the drug being developed. While targeted oncology treatments have largely focused on addressing oncogenes (or genes that have the potential to cause cancer), synthetic lethality treatment address the ignored patient pool where loss of tumor suppressing genes is the challenge.  Earlier in April 2020, another venture focused on synthetic lethality, Cambridge (MA) based Tango Therapeutics raised USD 60 million in Series B to fund IND enabling studies of its lead program. Tango Therapeutics has to its credit an earlier Series A of USD 55 million in 2017 and a partnership with Gilead in 2018 that rang in upfront payment of USD 50 million. We anticipate expanding investments in areas such as synthetic lethality where potential of immune-oncology and precision medicine is yet to be exploited to its potential.

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