- Madrigal Pharmaceuticals has agreed to out-license development and commercialization rights for its lead candidate and HSP90 drug conjugate program to Watertown, Massachusetts-based Tarveda Therapeutics, which is focused on developing treatments for solid tumors.
- Tarveda will pay Madrigal an undisclosed upfront payment, along with milestone payments which could be worth up to $163 million. Madrigal would also receive single-digit royalties on all future sales of HSP90-related products, although milestones would be lower for a second drug developed.
- The lead molecule, PEN-866, is a conjugate of an HSP90 ligand, linker and chemotherapeutic SN-38. It has shown some efficacy in preclinical studies, and is expected to enter the clinic sometime in the first half of 2017.
The deal between Tarveda Therapeutics and Madrigal Pharmaceuticals is a strategic one. Tarveda has selected Madrigal's HSP90 drug conjugates to tie in with its existing oncology focus. These HSP90-targeted complexes carry an anti-cancer payload direct to cancer cells and release it inside the cell, reducing the toxic impact on healthy cells. This new pipeline of candidates, including lead clinical candidate PEN-866, will sit alongside Tarveda's own experimental anti-cancer conjugates, which it dubs Pentarins.
“The HSP90 drug conjugate platform with its lead drug candidate PEN-866, which is scheduled to be in the clinic during the first half of 2017, is an ideal fit for our growing Pentarin pipeline of novel oncology therapeutics," said Drew Fromkin, president and CEO of Tarveda.
Madrigal's focus, on the other hand, is on small molecule therapeutics for cardiovascular-metabolic diseases and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Licensing rights to the drug conjugate program allows Madrigal to divest some of the non-core assets acquired during its July 2016 merger with Synta Pharmaceuticals and keeps its resources aimed at its core development areas.
“This transaction is a key element of Madrigal’s strategy to out-license our novel oncology assets to organizations with the oncology focus,” said Paul A. Friedman, chair and CEO of Madrigal
Tarveda's Pentarins are targeted drugs for the treatment of solid tumors which the company describes as "miniaturized drug conjugates". The lead Pentarin, PEN-221, is expected to begin Phase 1 studies in 2016 in neuroendocrine and small-cell lung cancer tumors.