Forma Forms Antibiotic-Discovery Partnership with Cubist

1/26/09

Forma Therapeutics came out of stealth mode early this month to reveal its plans to discover drugs for difficult-to-treat cancers—and today the Cambridge, MA-based biotech startup is announcing a deal with antibiotics maker Cubist Pharmaceuticals aimed at applying the startup’s nascent technology to discover antibacterial compounds, according to a press release.

Lexington, MA-based Cubist (NASDAQ:CBST) has agreed to pay Forma up to $14 million over the next three years—including upfront fees, research funding, and an equity investment—to discover potential antibiotics for bugs such as MRSA and gram-negative bacteria with resistance to existing treatments. The deal also makes Forma eligible for up to $54 million in payments related to the development of drugs discovered in the partnership.

This latest partnership follows Forma’s news two weeks ago about the firm’s agreement with Novartis that gives the Swiss drug giant the option to license cancer treatments discovered by the startup. Forma—which was founded by scientists at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT and biotech industry veterans such as its CEO, Steven Tregay—combines cell-based screening methods with computer modeling and chemistry techniques to discover drugs, according to the company.

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