- Celgene and biotech Agios Pharmaceuticals are expanding an existing drug development partnership to focus on advancing metabolic immune-oncology therapies, the companies said Tuesday.
- Under the amended collaboration, Celgene will pay Agios $200 million upfront for opt-in development rights over an initial four-year period. Agios will lead the early work for each program, and is eligible for additional milestone payments if Celgene opts-in.
- Celgene is also handing back global rights to AG-120, a drug for treatment of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) nearing pivotal trials. Agios had previously only held U.S. rights.
Celgene and Agios have had a productive relationship since signing their original collaboration deal in 2010. The partnership helped buoy Agios to launch a $106 million IPO in 2013.
This new deal will attempt to develop therapies which alter the metabolic state of immune cells as a way to boost the body’s immune response to cancer. Agios will be responsible for the exploratory preclinical research and early development.
“This strategic alliance will allow Agios to quickly expand our existing research platform into a third core area while leveraging Celgene’s capabilities and broad portfolio of immuno-oncology assets,” said David Schenkein, CEO at Agios.
The companies did not specify targets under the umbrella of metabolic immuno-oncology or indicate when clinical work might begin.
In general, Celgene will have an option on collaboration programs up through Phase 1 dose escalation, paying at least $30 million for each.
Specifically for metabolic immuno-oncology programs, the companies will split worldwide costs and profits equally and Agios is eligible for $169 in milestone payments for each of these type of programs.
Two cancer metabolism programs (AG-221 and AG-881) which originally fell under the 2010 agreement will now be folded into the updated structure for equal cost and profit sharing.
Celgene also gave back global ex-U.S. rights for AG-120, an AML drug. Agios said it planned to initiate late-stage trials in AML and explore the drug against several solid tumors.
Celgene has a reputation as being a company that partners well. Last year, Celgene entered into a $1 billion deal with Juno involving CAR-T and T-cell receptor technologies. Celgene also has a partnership with AstraZeneca developing a checkpoint inhibitor oncology drug.