- Joining the industry's sprint towards immune-oncology, Japanese drugmaker Daiichi Sankyo has signed a deal with Portland, OR-based biotech AgonOx to develop preclinical cancer immunotherapeutics against an undisclosed target.
- Though financial terms haven't been disclosed, the two companies have announced they will work together on preclinical development. After that, Daiichi Sankyo has an exclusive option to license the candidates for worldwide research, development, manufacturing and commercialization.
- The immuno-oncology market is expected to grow rapidly over the next few years. GlobalData, an analysis firm, predicts a market value of $14 billion in 2019 and $34 billion by 2024, driven by blockbusters such as Opdivo and Keytruda.
The last few months have seen a flurry of deals between big pharmas and biotechs in the cancer immunotherapy space, including agreements between Bluebird Bio and Medigene; Boehringer Ingelheim and ViraTherapeutics; Pfizer and OncoImmune; and Amgen and Advaxis.
AgonOx, a privately held spin-off from the Providence Cancer Center, is developing recombinant proteins, antibodies and small molecules that interact with immune-specific pathways. Potential candidates from this deal will become part of the Daiichi Sankyo Cancer Enterprise, which focuses on innovation in cancer.
“We are excited to collaborate with AgonOx, which has extensive expertise in validating the expression and function of immuno-oncology targets,” said Antoine Yver, global head of Oncology Research and Development at Daiichi Sankyo.
Daiichi Sankyo has stepped up its focus on cancer research, with 14 oncology drug candidates in Phase 1, three in Phase 2 and seven in Phase 3, according to its website.
But the Japanese drugmaker hit a snag earlier this year, when it stopped a Phase 3 lung cancer trial of its anti-HER3 monoclonal antibody patritumab after the drug didn't show sufficient efficacy. Patritumab is still being assessed in a Phase 2 trial in Europe for head and neck cancer, however.
AgonOx biotech has so far kept its cards close to its chest, disclosing relatively little information about its current pipeline. Back in 2011, however, the company did sign a global partnership with MedImmune, the global biologics arm of AstraZeneca, for OX40 agonists in cancer therapy.