Innate gives Novo antibody new life
- French biotech Innate Pharma has snagged worldwide exclusive development and commercialization rights to a Novo Nordisk anti-C5aR antibody. The antibody, now known as IPH5401, had previously been in Phase 1 trials for its use in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Innate will switch the focus for the antibody to immuno-oncology.
- Under the terms of the IPH5401 deal, Innate will pay out €40 million ($45 million) up front, broken down into €37.2 million in new shares and €2.8 million in cash. Moving forward, Novo Nordisk could receive up to €370 million in development, regulatory and sales milestone payments as well as double digit royalties. This will increase Novo Nordisk's stake in Innate from 10.3% to approximately 15%.
- The deal is expected to close on or before July 12, 2017, and Innate hopes to start cancer trials during 2018.
The checkpoint inhibitors are an exciting new approach in immuno-oncology, and a number of different ones have reached the market for a swathe of cancer types. Innate Pharma is also focusing on harnessing the innate immune system, both by creating checkpoint inhibitors, such as lirilumab and monalizumab, and developing drugs that can be used in combination with the checkpoint agents. IPH5401 targets immunosuppressive cells such as myeloid-derived suppressor cells and suppressor neutrophils in the tumor microenvironment, and has shown efficacy in animal models.
Innate Pharma is on a mission for growth, aiming to become a fully-integrated biopharmaceutical company. This deal broadens its monoclonal antibody pipeline, which already includes checkpoint inhibitors, antibody-directed cellular toxicity approaches, bispecific antibodies and antibodies targeting the adenosine pathway.
"We believe anti-C5aR has a high potential for cancer patients in multiple indications and look forward to beginning clinical development of this promising asset in 2018. Innate Pharma has a strong track record of value creation from in-licensed assets with lirilumab and monalizumab," said Mondher Mahjoubi, CEO of Innate Pharma.
Novo Nordisk stepped out of inflammatory research in 2014, following discontinuation of its anti-IL-20 compound in rheumatoid arthritis. However, before this point, the company had carried out a number of single- and multiple-dose Phase 1 trials with a "favorable safety profile," which should make the route to more advanced studies relatively smooth, beginning as soon as 2018.
Follow Suzanne Elvidge on Twitter