Amphista Therapeutics, a spin-out company from the University of Dundee, has signed collaboration agreements with two major global pharmaceutical companies that together could be worth more than $2 billion (£1.6bn).

The separate partnerships with Merck Healthcare and Bristol Myers Squibb come less than two months after Amphista completed the largest fundraising so far this year in Scotland's life sciences sector. That £38 million investment was co-led by Forbion and Gilde Healthcare, with additional investors including the Novartis Venture Fund and Eli Lilly.

Set up in October 2019, Amphista’s technology uses the body’s natural processes to selectively degrade and remove disease-causing proteins from human cells. The company’s targeted protein degradation (TPD) platform is expected to lead to the creation of new drugs for a broad range of diseases that are currently difficult to treat, with the initial focus on problematic cancer tumours.

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Merck and Amphista will work to discover and develop small molecule protein degraders for an initial three targets in oncology and immunology. Amphista will receive an upfront payment and R&D funding of up to $44m (£35m), with success-based milestone payments of up to $1bn (£800m).

Amphista will also receive an upfront payment of $30m (£24m) from Bristol Myers Squibb, with potential additional payments of up to $1.2bn (£1bn). Bristol Myers Squibb will be granted a global exclusive license to the degraders developed as part of the collaboration and will be responsible for further development and commercialisation activities.

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In addition to treating cancer, the company’s technology is expected to prove useful in neurological and neurodegenerative conditions, immunology and other areas requiring drug delivery through the central nervous system. The company's technology is based on the work of professor Alessio Ciulli at the university’s School of Life Sciences.

Nicola Thompson, chief executive of Amphista, said: “We are extremely pleased to enter into these collaborations, which are a validation of the progress we have made in TPD research and the potential of our EclipsysTM next-generation TPD platform.”