Shares in Dutch RNA editing specialist Proqr Therapeutics NV (NASDAQ:PRQR) surged by as much as 88% Dec. 22 news that Eli Lilly and Co. is substantially expanding an existing preclinical alliance. It is paying Proqr an initial $75 million, which consists of an up-front payment and equity investment, a potential $50 million option fee should it decide to widen the scope of the partnership even further, and up to $2.5 billion in new research, development, and commercialization milestones. Proqr would also receive royalties on any resulting product sales.
Pfizer Inc. has acquired rights to respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) drug candidate sisunatovir from Lianbio Co. Ltd. in a deal worth up to $155 million covering development and commercialization rights in mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Singapore. With this agreement, Pfizer now holds global development and commercialization rights to the candidate, an orally administered fusion inhibitor is designed to block RSV replication by inhibiting F-mediated fusion with the host cell.
It was a grueling year for life sciences companies trying to raise money and keep afloat. Despite the industry’s front-line position in fighting COVID-19, sparking an overzealous enthusiasm, the soaring financings and rising stock prices of 2020 took an about-face beginning in 2021 and dropping even further in 2022. Share prices plummeted amid economic turmoil that included rising inflation, geopolitical pressures, and budgetary threats. Investors closed their wallets just as burn rates increased and funds diminished. Partnering fell to pre-pandemic levels and mergers and acquisitions hit a five-year low. Without capital, the uncertainty led companies to the only other option, workforce reductions and restructurings, pushing aside promising candidates at the expense of patients.
In a show of commitment to Innate Pharma SA’s antibody-based natural killer cell engager therapeutics (Anket) platform, longstanding partner Sanofi SA is paying €25 million (US$26.5 million) up front and could pay up to €1.35 billion more in preclinical, clinical, regulatory, and commercial milestones for up to three development programs. Innate also stands to receive royalties on eventual product sales.
Sosei Heptares and Eli Lilly and Co. have signed a potential $731 million deal to discover, develop and commercialize small molecules that modulate G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) targets associated with diabetes and metabolic diseases.
Innovent Biologics Inc. has in-licensed LG Chem Ltd.’s tigulixostat (LC-350189), a late-stage non-purine xanthine oxidase inhibitor (XOI) for managing chronic hyperuricemia in patients with gout, in a deal worth up to $95 million.
Pediatrix Therapeutics Inc. licensed exclusive China rights to Aclaris Therapeutics Inc.'s ATI-1777 for investigational “soft” JAK 1/3 inhibitor, for diseases including atopic dermatitis, in exchange for an up-front payment of $5 million and up to $91 million in milestones.
While biopharma deal values were down year-over-year in November by 7.6%, that gap has now doubled, showing a 15.5% decline in values in 2022. There has been a significant slowdown in activity in the second half of the year. Values were up by 7% in early August 2022. All told, 1,422 deals, including licensings, joint ventures and collaborations, have brought the industry a potential $169.2 billion through the first week of December.
Wave Life Sciences Ltd. is partnering again. The company is getting $170 million up front – $120 million in cash and a $50 million equity investment – in a new partnership with GSK plc to advance oligonucleotides in unnamed targets. The agreement, which has a four-year research term, allows for GSK to advance up to eight programs using Wave Life’s platform and for Wave Life to advance three, or more if GSK approves, of its own collaboration programs.
Sotyktu (deucravacitinib), the tyrosine kinase 2 (TYK2) inhibitor for psoriasis from Bristol Myers Squibb Co., is “a good first-in-class” drug, said Nimbus Therapeutics LLC CEO Jeb Keiper, but his firm may have the best in class, ready for phase III trials. Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. apparently believes so. The company has agreed to pay $4 billion up front and pledge as much as $2 billion more in potential milestone payments to acquire Nimbus’s wholly owned subsidiary, Nimbus Lakshmi Inc., thereby bringing aboard the TYK2 prospect called NDI-034858.