Bayer is set to acquire US-based biopharmaceutical company Vividion Therapeutics at a deal totalling up to $2bn to boost its drug discovery expertise and expand into new modalities.

According to the deal, Vividion will get a $1.5bn upfront payment from Bayer and is eligible for success-based milestone payments of up to $500m.

Vividion leverages discovery technologies to identify increased value, conventionally undruggable targets with precision treatments.

The company’s platform can generate various small molecule treatments in different therapeutic areas. The initial focus is on cancer and immunology targets.

On concluding the acquisition, Bayer will gain full rights to Vividion’s discovery platform, which consists of a new chemoproteomic screening technology, a data portal and a chemistry library.

Bayer noted that the detection of treatment candidates for proteins is perceived as undruggable and a big challenge in drug discovery.

Vividion’s platform can detect binding pockets, which were earlier not known, on well-established protein targets by screening chemical probes against the complete human proteome to evaluate selectivity.

This approach delivers potent and selective compounds that offer a broad treatment window for various areas with increased unmet medical needs.

The technology’s applicability was validated in pre-clinical studies in oncology and immune-linked conditions and could be extended into more indications.

Vividion’s lead programmes comprise different precision oncology and immunology targets.

The company is currently working on a transcription factor NRF2 antagonist to potentially treat NRF2 mutant cancers and NRF2 activators for multiple inflammatory diseases, including irritable bowel disease, as well as additional pre-clinical assets.

Bayer management board member and pharmaceuticals president Stefan Oelrich said: “Vividion’s technology is the most advanced in the industry, and it has demonstrated its ability to identify drug candidates that can target challenging proteins.

“Together with Bayer’s existing know-how, we will be able to develop first-in-class drug candidates, increasing the value of our pipeline.”

After the closing of the transaction, which is anticipated in the third quarter of this year, Vividion will function as an independent entity on an arm’s length basis.

Vividion will be responsible to extend its technology and portfolio while leveraging Bayer’s experience, infrastructure and reach.

In January, Bayer entered a collaboration and services agreement with CureVac to support the further development, supply and key territory operations of the latter’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate, CVnCoV.