DUBLIN – Merus NV is banking $40 million up front, plus an equity investment of $20 million, under a research collaboration and license agreement with Eli Lilly and Co.’s Loxo Oncology arm to develop up to three CD3-directed bispecific T-cell engager antibodies. Each program also has up to $540 million attached in development and commercialization milestones, taking the total potential value of the deal to $1.68 billion. Merus would also receive tiered royalties on any product sales, ranging, in percentage terms, from mid-single-digits to low-double-digits.
The volume of med-tech deals and M&As in 2020 reached impressive levels, well above 2019, primarily due to the demands of a global pandemic, although the disclosed values of those alliances fell dramatically short. Even so, the spotlight that shined on digital health and diagnostics throughout the challenging year has potentially set up the med-tech industry for an influx of attention going forward.
Diagnostics innovator Renalytix AI plc and dialysis giant Davita Inc. partnered to develop a program to identify individuals with early-stage kidney disease and improve outcomes for the 37 million Americans with chronic kidney disease (CKD). The companies plan to launch the collaborative effort in three cities in 2021 to build a diverse, real-world evidence dataset as a base for moving forward.
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.
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.
Steris plc has agreed to buy Cantel Medical Corp. for approximately $3.6 billion, in a cash and stock transaction that unites two key players in the infection prevention space. The combined company offers a number of synergies. Cantel’s medical portfolio is expected to bolster and expand Steris’ endoscopy offerings, with a full-suite of high-level disinfection consumables, capital equipment and services plus single-use accessories.
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.