There was not much activity in the cancer space last week. Notable among them was an immuno-oncology partnership deal signed between Amgen and CytomX for developing t-Cell based therapy for cancer and acquisition of a late stage prostate cancer candidate by Endocyte. Also, the FDA granted breakthrough therapy designation to Seattle Genetics’ Adcetrics. Moreover, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ruled in favor of Eli Lilly in a patent litigation for Alimta. Let’s see the news in details.
Amgen, Inc. (AMGN - Free Report) and CytomX Therapeutics, Inc. (CTMX - Free Report) entered into a strategic immuno-oncology collaboration for jointly developing t-cell engaging bispecific probody. Amgen will pay CytomX $40 million upfront and another $20 million will be invested in the latter’s stock.
Per the deal, the initial work will be done by Cytomx while Amgen will be responsible for late stage studies and commercialization. Apart from the upfront payment and the equity investment, CytomX will also be eligible to receive up to $455 million in milestones as well as an opt-in right in U.S. profits and royalties on outside U.S. sales, if the product is commercialized. The addition of this technology platform will expand Amgen’s immuno-oncology capabilities, while CytomX will have a strong partner in Amgen and also a regular flow of funds. (Read more: Amgen Enters Into Immuno-Oncology Partnership With CytomX)
Endocyte, Inc. (ECYT - Free Report) acquired a late stage prostate cancer candidate from ABX GmbH, 177Lu-PSMA-617 for an upfront payment of $12 million. Pursuant to the acquisition, Endocyte now has exclusive worldwide license to develop the candidate and commercialize upon successful approval. The candidate is the most advanced targeted radioligand therapeutic under development for prostate cancer and is believed to have a market opportunity of $1 billion.
In fact, 177Lu-PSMA-617 targets the prostate-specific membrane antigen ("PSMA"), present in about 80% of patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC). The candidate has also shown high response rates in late stage prostate cancer patients in the studies presented at recent European Society for Medical Oncology. Investors were encouraged by the announcement of the news as evident from the stock price appreciation of 150% on Oct 2. (Read more: Endocyte Inks Deal For Prostate Cancer Candidate)
Seattle Genetics, Inc.’s (SGEN - Free Report) lymphoma drug, Adcetris, was granted Breakthrough Therapy Designation status for frontline treatment in advanced classical Hodgkin lymphoma. A recently completed phase III study evaluated the drug in this indication. The granting of this status is expected to speed up its development and review process. An application for label expansion of the drug is expected to be filed this year. (Read more: Seattle Genetics' Adcetris Gets Breakthrough Therapy Status)
Celsion Corporation (CLSN - Free Report) , a small biotech company, announced data from an early stage study on its immunotherapy candidate, GEN1, showing evident biological activity in newly diagnosed stage III and IV ovarian cancer. The study evaluated the drug in combination with neoadjuvant chemotherapy followed by an interval debulking surgery. The candidate has achieved a 100% disease control rate in patient population.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ruled in favor of Eli Lilly & Company (LLY - Free Report) in a dispute related to the vitamin regimen patent on its key cancer drug, Alimta. An inter partes review was initiated by Neptune Generics and Sandoz. The drug has generated more than 9% of the company’s revenues in the first half of 2017. The approval of a generic version before its patent expiration in June 2021 will have a strong negative impact on Lilly’s top line. In a separate news, AVEO Oncology announced results of a pre-planned futility analysis of its phase III study on kidney cancer candidate, Fotivda. A review of the results by an independent statistician suggested continuation of the study without any modification.
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