- Regeneron has struck a deal to co-develop cancer drugs with CytomX Therapeutics, paying cash to the struggling biotechnology company months after it laid off 40% of its workers.
- Under a deal announced Thursday, Regeneron will pay CytomX $30 million upfront to work on dual-acting antibody cancer therapies. CytomX could receive up to $2 billion in downstream payments if certain clinical and commercial milestones are met.
- The collaboration is focused on CytomX's “biologic masking strategies” designed to allow cancer drugs to remain inactive until they are in a tumor, potentially reducing side effects and widening their therapeutic window, Regeneron said.
The upfront cost is modest for Regeneron. But it’s a financial lifeline for Cytomyx, which restructured in July, and adds more assets in an area of research Regeneron has heavily invested in.
Regeneron bought Checkmate Pharmaceuticals for $250 million in April, picking up the biotech’s main asset, an experimental drug that stimulates T cells to fight cancer. Then, two months later bought the full rights for $900 million to the immunotherapy Libtayo that it developed with Sanofi, a drug that last week won broader use in the U.S. in lung cancer.
Regeneron’s pipeline lists 11 clinical studies for bispecific antibodies, including linvoseltamab in a Phase 1/2 trial that showed response rates higher than 75%, but with side effects that has the company moving forward with a lower dose.
There is significant competition within pharma to develop dual-targeting cancer treatments, which simultaneously latch onto targets on cancer and immune cells. Johnson & Johnson’s Tecvayli became the first such treatment commercially available in the U.S. for multiple myeloma in October, and on its heels are experimental medicines from Regeneron as well as Pfizer, AbbVie, Roche and Bristol Myers Squibb. Bispecific antibodies from Amgen and J&J were previously approved in other types of cancer, too.
Other pharma companies have also struck deals with CytomX in recent years to co-develop bispecific antibodies. Amgen partnered with CytomX five years ago and is helping it develop its CX-904 bispecific drug candidate, now in a Phase 1 study. Astellas Pharma signed a deal in 2020 that could pay CytomX more than $1.6 billion if it meets milestones in developing an unspecified bispecific antibody.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify the positioning of J&J's drug Tecvayli.