Evoq Therapeutics LLC, a Michigan-based company developing a new technology for treating autoimmune disease, has signed a new license and collaboration agreement giving Amgen Inc. exclusive rights to selected programs in the area, undisclosed in number and indication. Valued at more than $240 million in up-front and milestone payments, the deal also includes potential royalties on sales of resulting therapies, Evoq said.
KSQ Therapeutics Inc.’s chief scientific officer, Frank Stegmeier, said that the CRISPRomics technology that drew Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. to the table allows, “for the first time, genome-scale functional screening [in vivo as well as in vitro] across multiple disease settings. It really takes the guessing game out of your drug target selection.” Working with “an encyclopedia of gene function,” he said, KSQ aims to identify prospects that can have monotherapy activity in PD-1-refractory solid tumors.
With several deals and M&As falling within the highest values on record, 2020 turned out to be a solid year for the biopharma industry. Expectations are optimistic moving into 2021, when the U.S. will welcome a new president and its citizens should reach herd immunity from COVID-19.
Biond Biologics Ltd. co-founder and CEO Tehila Ben-Moshe told BioWorld that “a relatively small group of scientists who are very motivated started with a very basic scientific idea, which we were able to take all the way into clinical trials in four years,” and draw the interest of Paris-based Sanofi SA in a checkpoint inhibitor with multi-cell effects. In its second major deal of the week, Sanofi is pledging $125 million up front and more than $1 billion more in potential development, regulatory and sales-related milestone payments to Biond, of Misgav, Israel.
LONDON – Enara Bio Ltd. has landed the first major deal around its dark antigen technology platform, signing up Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH in an agreement worth a potential €876 million (US$1.06 billion). Reaching that figure would require a product to make it to market. More immediately, Enara is getting an up-front payment, research and preclinical milestones for each of up to three tumor types explored in the partnership.
BEIJING – Beigene Ltd. out-licensed its anti-PD-1 monoclonal antibody tislelizumab to Novartis AG in a deal worth up to $2.2 billion, including $650 million up front. Novartis gains rights to develop and commercialize tislelizumab in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the EU, the U.K., Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Russia and Japan. Beigene retains the rights for China and other countries. Beigene (NASDAQ: BGNE; HKEX: 06160) is eligible for up to $1.3 billion in regulatory milestone payments and $250 million in sales milestones as well as royalties.
As a virtual 39th J.P. Morgan Annual Healthcare Conference begins, typically one of the biggest events of the year, biopharma dealmaking barreled ahead with five new deals Jan. 11 that could eventually hit $1.04 billion in total.
Bluebird Bio Inc. CEO Nick Leschly conceded that it’s “hard for folks on the outside looking in” to understand why the firm would cleave its severe genetic disease (SGD) and oncology efforts into two independently traded public companies, but said the Cambridge, Mass.-based firm is making the change by the end of this year in order “to make sure we can basically fall down and get back up and learn everything we can in the most disciplined manner,” he said.
DUBLIN – Sanofi SA is paying $1.1 billion up front and up to $350 million more in potential clinical development and regulatory milestones to acquire antibody developer Kymab Ltd. The deal adds to Sanofi’s pipeline first-in-class OX40-ligand blocker KY-1005, which recently hit the primary endpoints of a phase IIa trial in atopic dermatitis, as well as a second clinical-stage asset, KY-1044, an ICOS agonist in development for solid tumors. It also brings Sanofi a new antibody discovery platform, comprising several transgenic mouse strains, which collectively encode all the building blocks required to produce fully human antibodies.