A little over a month after Vividion Therapeutics Inc. filed to raise $100 million in an IPO, Bayer AG is paying $1.5 billion up front, with the promise of $500 million more in milestone payments, to take over the firm and its small-molecule precision oncology and immunology platform.

Vividion’s preclinical programs include multiple targets, with ongoing research into a transcription factor NRF2 antagonist for the potential treatment of NRF2 mutant cancers, plus a lineup of NRF2 activators for various inflammatory conditions such as irritable bowel disease.

When the deal closes, Leverkusen, Germany-based Bayer will own Vividion’s chemoproteomic screening technology, an integrated data portal, and chemistry library. The screening setup allows for identifying previously unknown binding pockets on well-validated protein targets by testing probes against the entire human proteome to assess selectivity, Bayer said, noting that about 90% of disease-causing proteins cannot be targeted by current therapies due to the lack of a known binding site.

Vividion, of San Diego, will remain independent operationally on an “arm’s length basis,” Bayer said, in order to “preserve its entrepreneurial culture as an essential pillar,” while benefiting from the larger firm’s expertise and reach. The deal is expected to wrap up in the third quarter of this year.

In June, the same month Vividion filed for its IPO, the company banked an undisclosed milestone payment from Basel, Switzerland-based Roche Holding AG as part of their April 2020 worldwide collaboration, option and licensing agreement. The payment was tied to Vividion completing a preclinical data package for a drug that targets an undisclosed target in oncology.

Vividion also has a deal with Celgene Corp., of Summit, N.J., that brought $101 million up front from Celgene Corp., signed in March 2018, which included an equity investment as part of the amount. The arrangement was to pursue "a handful" of small molecules against targets for a range of oncology, inflammatory and neurodegenerative indications, the companies said. Terms called for four years of work, with Celgene potentially extending the pact for another payment, the amount of which the companies left unspecified. The pair is advancing small molecules that function through the ubiquitin proteasome system, modulating specific protein levels for therapeutic benefit. In November 2019, New York-based Bristol Myers Squibb Co. finished its $74 billion buyout of Celgene.

Credit Suisse is serving as financial advisor to Bayer, with Baker McKenzie as legal counsel. Centerview Partners is advising Vividion financially and Cooley LLP is providing legal guidance.