Vertex Pharmaceuticals, the Boston biotech best known for its portfolio of drugs to treat cystic fibrosis, will pay $70 million up front to a Cambridge, Mass., startup that hopes to use a novel approach to treat diseases. It will initially focus on inflammatory disorders and cancers, but the science could potentially apply to a broad range of illnesses.

Vertex announced a four-year research and development collaboration Wednesday with Kymera Therapeutics. The privately held startup wants to develop drugs based on Nobel Prize-winning insights into how the body eliminates disease-causing proteins.

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