Baxalta, Inc., a global biopharmaceutical company developing and commercializing therapies for patients with orphan diseases and unmet medical needs, and Symphogen, a biopharma specializing in recombinant antibodies and antibody mixtures, have announced a broad strategic immuno-oncology partnership. The joint venture intends to advance the development of novel immune checkpoint therapies.
“This exciting partnership aligns well to Baxalta’s strategy to invest in immuno-oncology and build an innovative portfolio of immunotherapies,” David Meek, Baxalta’s executive vice president and president of Oncology, said in a press release. “With the expertise Symphogen offers in this category and their broad portfolio of early-stage immuno-oncology programs, this collaboration allows us to actively advance one of the most innovative areas of this field. For Baxalta, this is just the beginning of our focus in building world-class capabilities in immuno-oncology.”
Under the agreement, Baxalta and Symphogen will advance therapeutics against six checkpoint targets, with the first program to begin clinical trials in 2017. If Phase I studies are successful, on a product-by-product basis, Baxalta will earn exclusive rights to complete the therapy’s late stage development and to global marketing and commercialization. Symphogen will be in charge of research and development (R&D) throughout Phase I trials at its own expense, but will receive $175 million (€160 million) up-front from Baxalta in return for exclusive option rights for the six therapies. The agreement has a potential value of up to $1.6 billion (€1.4 billion) in long-term option fees and milestones, in addition to royalties on global sales.
The therapeutic targets were not disclosed in the agreement.
“Baxalta’s dedication to delivering transformative therapies and its global commercial presence make it an ideal strategic partner for Symphogen, as we complement Baxalta with R&D competencies within the immuno-oncology area,” said Kirsten Drejer, PhD, Symphogen’s CEO. “We look forward to providing Baxalta with innovative immuno-oncology product candidates under this broad collaboration.”
Dr. Göran Ando, the chairman of the Board of Directors at Symphogen, added, “This collaboration also provides strong validation for Symphogen’s antibody approach and capabilities within the exciting field of immuno-oncology therapy.”
Immuno-oncology, focused on activating and directing a patient’s own immune system against tumor growth and proliferation, is generating therapeutic advances, and recent research holds promise of improved outcomes in a variety of cancers.