- NewLink is licensing its IDO pathway inhibitor NLG919 to Genentech as part of a cancer therapy drug-discovery collaborative partnership deal.
- Genentech is paying NewLink $150 million up front in a deal that could be worth as much as $1.15 billion.
- This move is especially newsworthy because Genentech is not a company that collaborates on a regular basis in these types of partnerships. Genentech is providing funding for all development and commercial activities and sharing in profits as part of a broader co-promotion deal.
Ever since the approval of Merck's Keytruda (pembrolizumab) early last month, the race has been on to not only gain approval for other PD-1 inhibitors, but also to develop and gain approval for other types of immunotherapeutic oncologic drugs. Another example of corralling the immune system into the fight against cancer is the use of drugs that inhibit the IDO (Indoleamine-pyrrole 2,3-dioxygenase) pathway. The IDO pathway regulates immune response by suppressing T-cell activation, and may also be implicated in the growth of cancerous cells.
Roche has a PD-1 inhibitor (MPDL3280A) in development that produced positive phase 1 results wherein the treatment shrank tumors in 43% of patients previously treated for metastatic bladder cancer. Based on these promising results, the goal is to combine Roche's immunotherapy-based oncology treatments-in-development with Newlink's IDO inhibitor, since there is ample evidence that combining two well-vetted drugs often leads to better outcomes.
You may have already heard of NewLink; it's is one of several U.S. and Canadian companies that is shipping vials of an Ebola vaccine candidate (VSV-EBOV) to the World Health Organization (WHO).