French biotechnology company Nanobiotix will license an experimental cancer treatment to Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen arm in a deal announced Monday, giving the smaller drugmaker enough cash to fund operations into next year.
J&J will pay Nanobiotix $30 million up front and has agreed to provide as much as $30 million worth of regulatory and development support for a late-stage clinical trial testing the treatment in head and neck cancer. In return, J&J gains exclusive worldwide rights to the treatment, except in areas previously licensed by Nanobiotix to partner LianBio.
Additionally, J&J’s venture arm, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, will invest up to $30 million in Nanobiotix, beginning with an initial $5 million. The remaining $25 million is conditioned on Nanobiotix raising new funds from other investors before the end of 2027.
The deal is significant for Nanobiotix, which in May projected it only had enough cash to continue operations through September. The forthcoming funds from J&J will extend its runway into the first quarter of 2024, Nanobiotix said.
The treatment that drew J&J’s interest, dubbed NBTXR3, is what Nanobiotix describes as a “radioenhancer.” Injected into tumors, it’s designed to boost the effects of radiation therapy.
The company is currently testing it in a Phase 3 trial of about 500 patients with head and neck cancer. The study compares NBTXR3 in combination with either radiation alone or radiation plus another drug called Erbitux to those two treatment regimens without NBTXR3. Interim data are expected by the second half of next year.
In a statement, Nanobiotix CEO Laurent Levy said J&J is “the right partner, at the right time, with proven global development and commercialization capabilities.”
The deal comes about a year after Nanobiotix cut back on some preclinical research, froze hiring and adjusted other plans to reduce its spending.