Partners in immuno-oncology
December 2018
by Jeffrey Bouley  |  Email the author

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PLANEGG, Germany & SHANGHAI—German company MorphoSys AG and Chinese company I-Mab Biopharma recently announced that they have entered into an exclusive strategic collaboration and regional licensing agreement for MOR210, MorphoSys’ proprietary, preclinical-stage antibody directed against C5aR, which has potential to be developed as an immuno-oncology agent.
 
I-Mab will have exclusive rights to develop and commercialize MOR210 in China, Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan and South Korea, while MorphoSys will retain rights in the rest of the world. The agreement deepens the existing partnership between the two companies, building upon the ongoing collaboration on MorphoSys’ anti-CD38 antibody MOR202.
 
Under the terms of the agreement, which includes $3.5 million to MorphoSys up front, I-Mab will exercise its exclusive license rights for development and commercialization of MOR210 in its territories. With support from MorphoSys, I-Mab will perform and fund all global development activities for MOR210, including clinical trials in China and the United States.
 
“This deal builds on our excellent existing relationship with I-Mab for MOR202. We are delighted to grant rights for MOR210 in the Chinese region to I-Mab and enable them to conduct clinical proof-of-concept studies while we focus on other priorities,” said Dr. Simon Moroney, CEO of MorphoSys. “The deal takes advantage of our very close working relationship to the benefit of both companies.”
 
“The release of immune checkpoint blockades within the tumor has become a successful strategy to fight cancers. MOR210 is a novel immuno-oncology asset directed against C5aR made by MorphoSys,” added Dr. Markus Enzelberger, chief scientific officer of MorphoSys. “By addressing this target molecule, we seek to modulate the tumor microenvironment. We look forward to seeing I-Mab drive this interesting program forward into clinical studies, while we retain rights to continue development of MOR210 outside of I-Mab’s territories after clinical proof of concept.”
 
In addition to the upfront payment, MorphoSys will be eligible for development and commercial milestone payments of up to $101.5 million, as well as tiered, mid-single-digit royalties on net sales of MOR210 in I-Mab’s territories. In return for the execution of a successful clinical proof-of-concept study, I-Mab is eligible to receive low-single-digit royalties on net sales generated with MOR210 outside its territories and a tiered percentage of sub-licensing revenue.
 
“This agreement is part of our continued efforts to develop innovative biologics with first-in-class and best-in-class potentials,” said Dr. Jingwu Zang, CEO of I-Mab. “Through partnership with global innovative companies such as MorphoSys, we expand our innovative oncology portfolio to address unmet medical needs in China and jointly develop drug candidates for the world.”
 
This immuno-oncology deal followed on some other news in November from MorphoSys that it was presenting data this month on investigational drugs MOR208 and MOR202 in various blood cancer indications at the American Society of Hematology (ASH) 2018 Meeting.
 
“This year’s ASH meeting will see a number of important updates from our investigational compounds in various blood cancer indications,” Dr. Malte Peters, chief development officer of MorphoSys, said at the time. “We are particularly excited that we have been selected to present updated preliminary results on all 81 enrolled patients in the L-MIND study, in an oral presentation at ASH. This study is designed to evaluate efficacy and safety of our Fc-enhanced CD19 antibody MOR208 in combination with lenalidomide in patients with relapsed or refractory diffuse large B cell lymphoma (r/r DLBCL). Based on the U.S. FDA Breakthrough Therapy designation received last year, we are committed to developing MOR208 plus lenalidomide as a new treatment option for patients with r/r DLBCL, where there is a particularly high unmet medical need.”
 
Specifically, the planned presentations cover:
  • MOR208 (L-MIND): Interim data from Phase 2 L-MIND study of MOR208 plus lenalidomide in 81 patients with relapsed/refractory DLBCL accepted for oral presentation
  • MOR208 (COSMOS): First data from exploratory Phase 2 COSMOS study of MOR208 plus venetoclax in relapsed/refractory CLL/SLL accepted as poster presentation
  • MOR202: Results from Phase 1/2a trial of MOR202 plus low-dose dexamethasone (dex) or pomalidomide/dex or lenalidomide/dex in relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma accepted for oral presentation.
MorphoSys is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company “dedicated to the discovery, development and commercialization of exceptional, innovative therapies for patients suffering from serious diseases,” and its focus is on cancer, with investigational therapeutics based on its leading expertise in antibody, protein and peptide technologies.
Code: E121827

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