December deals
by Kelsey Kaustinen  |  Email the author


While the end of December is usually busy on the holiday front, this year it's been busy on the partnering end as well, with three pairs of companies announcing partnerships in the last week.
Among them are Allschwil, Switzerland-based Idorsia Ltd., a pharmaceutical research company, and Roche, which shared news of a research collaboration that grants Roche an exclusive option right to develop and market first-in-class compounds in cancer immunotherapy. Under the agreement, Idorsia and Roche will work together to discover products through the formation of a joint committee that will be chaired by Idorsia. Roche will pay CHF 15 million (approximately $15.2 million) to Idorsia up front, and after a pre-determined period, will also have the option to exclusively license Idorsia compounds (including those that result from this partnership) for an additional 35 million (approximately $35.5 million).
In addition, Idorsia also stands to receive development and regulatory milestones of up to CHF 410 million (approximately $415.9 million), as well as sales milestones and tiered royalties on annual net sales of any products that result from this agreement.
"The preclinical data we have generated leads us to believe that our approach can translate into significant therapeutic benefits for patients,” Dr. Martine Clozel, chief scientific officer of Idorsia, commented in a press release. “By joining forces, we are combining our advanced drug discovery program together with the cancer immunotherapy expertise of Roche. I am looking forward to the collaboration with our partner to leverage our research and bring compounds through clinical development as soon as possible."
In another partnership focused on immunotherapy, Five Prime Therapeutics Inc. and Zai Lab Limited announced that they had inked an exclusive license agreement for Five Prime's FPA144 in greater China and a global strategic development collaboration. Per the deal, Zai Lab has been granted an exclusive license for the development and commercialization of FPA144 in the Greater China area, which consists of China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. Zai Lab will assume responsibility for conducting the Phase 3 FIGHT trial in the region and for commercialization in the aforementioned territories. For its part, Five Prime will be manufacturing and supplying FPA144 for the study.
The companies will establish a joint steering committee to oversee the agreement activities. Zai Lab will pay Five Prime $5 million up front, with the potential for up to $39 million in development and regulatory milestone payments. Five Prime also stands to receive a royalty percentage on FPA144 sales ranging from the high teens to the low twenties in the established territories. Zai Lab, in turn, is eligible for a low single-digit royalty on net sales of FPA144 outside of Greater China.
"We believe Zai Lab is the right partner for FPA144 in Greater China for this innovative product," said Aron Knickerbocker, chief operating officer of Five Prime and incoming CEO (effective Jan. 1, 2018). "China accounts for more than 40 percent of new gastric cancer cases globally, so it is critical to align strategically with a strong collaborator with the infrastructure, relationships and resources to help us advance FPA144 global development expeditiously. Zai Lab is ideally positioned given their experienced leadership team, focus on innovative drugs and established expertise and network within oncology. We look forward to working with Zai Lab to carry out our worldwide development program for FPA144 and accelerate enrollment in the global Phase 3 portion of the FIGHT trial."
FPA144 is a first-in-class isoform-selective, humanized monoclonal antibody being developed as a targeted immunotherapy for tumors that overexpress FGFR2b, which includes gastric and gastro-esophageal junction cancers. The FIGHT trial will assess the efficacy of combining FPA144 with chemotherapy.
And last but not least, Thermo Fisher Scientific and Juno Therapeutics joined forces in a deal in which Juno will use Thermo Fisher's Cell Therapy Systems (CTS) activation reagents in the manufacture of its CAR T cell therapies. Specifically, the companies have struck up a seven-year nonexclusive licensing and supply agreement, under which Juno gains rights to use CTS Dynabeads CD3/CD28 magnetic beads in the clinical and commercial manufacturing processes for its current and future CAR T therapies.
"As Juno progresses its pipeline from clinical research to commercializing drug product, it requires the highest-quality manufacturing capabilities that the industry can offer," said Mark Stevenson, chief operating officer at Thermo Fisher Scientific. "Cell Therapy Systems' products help minimize the risk of contamination and variability in clinical research and drug commercialization. These products are supported by rigorous regulatory review, making them a proven choice as more companies invest in moving from bench to bedside."
Code: E122717

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