Carmel-based Assembly Biosciences Inc. — a biotech company with numerous ties to Indiana University and residents of the Hoosier State — has entered a worldwide research, development, collaboration and license agreement with Irish pharmaceutical giant Allergan Plc.
According to the Indianapolis Business Journal, the pact covers preclinical compounds for up to six gastrointestinal conditions. In turn, the deal will help Assembly develop such compounds that address ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome and related conditions that affect millions of people.
The IBJ also reported that Assembly will receive an upfront payment of $50 million, plus up to $630 million in development milestone payments and up to $2.15 billion commercial milestone payments — depending on several factors such as successful clinical trials, government approval and commercial sales.
Founded in 2012, Assembly — which employs about 100 workers and consultants — is built in part around the research of Adam Zlotnick, a professor of molecular and cellular biochemistry at Indiana University Bloomington and co-founder of Assembly. By exploiting vulnerabilities in the capsid assembly of the hepatitis B virus (HBV), it is hoped that the chronic liver infection that it causes — which kills about 786,000 people annually and affects about 240 million people globally according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — can be eradicated.
C. difficile is an overgrowth of bacteria in the lower gastrointestinal tract often triggered by the use of antibiotics to treat common infections. This can produce toxins that can lead to severe diarrhea, sepsis and even death. According to the CDC, deaths linked to C. difficile infections (CDI) increased more than five fold between 1999 and 2007, and C. difficile is the leading cause of death associated with gastroenteritis in the U.S. Through a unique platform for targeted delivery of beneficial bacteria, viruses, proteins and small molecules to the colon or terminal ileum, Assembly — which has research facilities in Bloomington and San Francisco — hopes to eliminate CDI as well.
Other Assembly officials with IU or Indiana ties include:
- William W. Turner, who co-founded Assembly with Zlotnick and is a former visiting scholar in biochemistry at IU-Bloomington. Turner is head of discovery chemistry at Assembly and served for 35 years as a research chemist at Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly & Co.
- Derek Small, a co-founder, CEO and director of Assembly, who earned a bachelors degree in business from Franklin College.
- Richard DiMarchi, an Assembly director who is the Cox Distinguished Professor of Biochemistry and Gill Chair in Biomolecular Sciences at IU-Bloomington.
- Micah Mackison, Assembly’s vice president of corporate development and strategy, who earned his bachelors degree in finance from IU.
- William Ringo, an Assembly director who also serves as a director for BioCrossroads, an Indiana initiative and public-private collaboration that focuses on growing, advancing and investing in the life sciences.