AstraZeneca picks up immunotherapy drugs, equity stake in Innate deal
- AstraZeneca and its biologics R&D arm MedImmune have acquired a 9.8% stake in Innate Pharma, along with rights to a slate of immuno-oncology drugs, in a deal which boosted the smaller company's share price by more than 40%.
- The British pharma will pay $170 million upfront to pick up full rights to monalizumab, the subject of an earlier 2015 collaboration between the companies, as well as option rights to an anti-CD39 antibody and four preclinical immuno-oncology candidates.
- Innate, meanwhile, will license U.S. commercial rights to AstraZeneca's recently approved leukemia drug Lumoxiti for $50 million upfront and $25 million in potential milestone payments.
The new deal between AstraZeneca and Innate is based on an existing collaboration signed three years ago.
At the time, the two companies agreed to work together to develop Innate's anti-NKG2A antibody, monalizumab, with plans to carry out Phase 2 trials of the drug as a monotherapy and in combination with AstraZeneca's MEDI4736, an anti-PD-L1 immune checkpoint inhibitor.
Under the terms of the new deal, AstraZeneca exercised its option to secure full oncology rights to monalizumab, paying $100 million in the first quarter of 2019. The previous deal was for a 20% U.S. royalty and an even profit split in the EU.
In a Phase 2 trial of monalizumab in combination with cetuximab in 40 head and neck cancer patients, the overall response rate was 27.5%, with progression-free survival of 5.0 months and overall survival of 10.3 months. Phase 2 combination trials are also underway in colorectal cancer.
Monalizumab targets the NK2GA checkpoint receptor, which is expressed on tumour-infiltrating cytotoxic T-cells and natural killer cells and inhibits their anti-cancer functions.
AstraZeneca also secured an option for joint development and commercialization of Innate's CD39 monoclonal antibody, IPH5201.
The deal reflects a desire by AstraZeneca to further build out its immuno-oncology pipeline, which has trailed rivals.
Innate's takeover of Lumoxiti (moxetumomab pasudotox-tdfk) for relapsed or refractory hairy cell leukemia, meanwhile, will be gradual. Innate will initially co-commercialize Lumoxiti with AstraZeneca in the U.S. and will take full responsibility by mid-2020.
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