BioWorld International Correspondent

BioInvent International AB added $15 million to its coffers and could earn up to $175 million more in milestones from an agreement with Genentech Inc. to co-develop its preclinical monoclonal antibody BI-204, which is in development for prevention of acute coronary syndrome.

The Lund, Sweden-based firm's stock soared by almost 45 percent during trading on the Nordic Exchange in Stockholm, Sweden, Friday, climbing to $2.10.

South San Francisco-based Genentech and BioInvent will share clinical development responsibility and all development costs. Genentech will have sole commercial rights to BI-204 in North America, while BioInvent has retained rights for all other territories and would also receive royalties on North American sales.

"It gives us a great opportunity to integrate forward and build skills in the company," BioInvent CEO Svein Mathiesen said. That could include a commercial infrastructure, as well as a ramping up of the company's clinical development organization. BioInvent is keeping its options open with respect to its outstanding rights to the compound, he said.

BioInvent in-licensed intellectual property underpinning the program from Jan Nilsson at Malmö University Hospital in Malmö, Sweden, and Prediman K. Shah at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

BI-204 targets an oxidized form of low density lipoprotein (oxLDL), which contributes to the inflammatory processes that lead to the formation of plaque that lines the interior walls of blood vessels.

"What we have shown in numerous animal experiments is we can reduce the inflammation in vessel walls and through that process stabilize and even reduce the plaque buildup," Mathiesen said. "We expect to commence clinical trials this year."

The compound is being developed for patients on statin therapy who remain at high risk of a cardiovascular event, such as myocardial infarction or stroke. "The aim is to prevent secondary events," Mathiesen said.

Although not totally unexpected, the scope of the deal was a pleasant surprise for shareholders. "It was a larger deal and a better partner than the market had expected," analyst Alexander Lindström at ABG Sundal Collier AB, in Stockholm, told BioWorld Today.

The company had never previously executed a deal of that magnitude, and analysts therefore had attached a high-risk premium to the program.

"It's taken some time for them to strike a large deal such as [this] one," Lindström said.

Although he has not yet published a revised target price for the stock, the up-front payment alone is worth SEK2 (US$0.28) per share, Lindström said, and the undiscounted total milestones would represent an additional SEK26 per share.