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AbbVie (ABBV) Buys Option Rights to NextGen Inflammation Drug

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AbbVie (ABBV - Free Report) announced that it signed a deal with precision medicines biotech, Cugene, for CUG252, a potential best-in-class Treg-selective IL-2 mutein for the potential treatment of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.

Per the deal, AbbVie will get an option to license worldwide rights for certain IL-2 muteins, including a next-generation inflammatory candidate, CUG252, from Cugene. CUG252 is being evaluated in a phase I study in healthy volunteers while Cugene plans to conduct a phase Ib study in patients with autoimmune/inflammatory disease during the option period.

AbbVie’s stock has risen 14.7% this year so far compared with an increase of 2.1% for the industry.

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For the deal, AbbVie will make an upfront payment of $48.5 million to Cugene while also being entitled to make future development and regulatory milestone payments. If AbbVie chooses to exercise the option, it will have to make an option exercise payment and will then take care of all future clinical development and commercialization activities for CUG252.

The deal builds on AbbVie’s strong position in immunology with a blockbuster drug like Humira and its new immunology medicines, Skyrizi and Rinvoq, in its portfolio. Skyrizi and Rinvoq demonstrated differentiated clinical profiles versus Humira and are already contributing meaningful revenues, including $4.6 billion in combined sales in 2021. With new indications coming in the next couple of years, sales of these drugs could be higher and have the potential to replace Humira when generics are launched in 2023.

Zacks Rank and Stocks to Consider

AbbVie currently has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Some better-ranked biotech stocks are Alkermes (ALKS - Free Report) , Sesen Bio (SESN - Free Report) and Abeona Therapeutics (ABEO - Free Report) . While Alkermes and Sesen Bio have a Zacks Rank #1, Abeona Therapeutics has a Zacks Rank of 2. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for Alkermes’ 2022 loss per share has narrowed from 13 cents to 3 cents in the past 30 days. Shares of ALKS have risen 24.3% year to date.

Earnings of Alkermes beat estimates in each of the last four quarters, the average being 350.5%.

The consensus estimate for Sesen Bio’s 2022 loss per share has declined from 33 cents to 32 cents in the past 30 days. Shares of SESN have declined 49.2% in the year-to-date period.

Earnings of Sesen Bio beat estimates in three of the last four quarters and missed the mark on one occasion, the average surprise being 69.9%.

The consensus estimate for Abeona Therapeutics’ 2022 loss has narrowed from 34 cents to 33 cents in the past 30 days. Shares of ABEO have declined 46.6% in the year-to-date period.

Earnings of Abeona Therapeutics missed estimates in two of the last four quarters and met the mark on two occasions, the average negative surprise being 8.17%.

In-Depth Zacks Research for the Tickers Above

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Alkermes plc (ALKS) - free report >>

AbbVie Inc. (ABBV) - free report >>

Abeona Therapeutics Inc. (ABEO) - free report >>

SESEN BIO, INC. (SESN) - free report >>