Agios Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and Celgene Corporation recently announced a new comprehensive strategic collaboration dedicated to metabolic immuno-oncology, a developing field of oncology that focuses on changing immune cells’ metabolic state to enhance the body’s immune response to cancer.
“The immune system’s ability to attack tumors is highly regulated by cellular metabolism. This emerging discipline of metabolic immuno-oncology has great potential to provide novel insights and targets for cancer immunotherapy in solid and hematologic malignancies,” Celgene’s chief scientific officer, Dr. Rob Hershberg said in a press release. “This strategic agreement combines Agios’ scientific leadership in cellular metabolism with Celgene’s expertise and growing efforts in immuno-oncology and builds upon the extremely productive partnership and working relationship that exist between our two companies.”
The objective of the collaborations is to discover, develop, and commercialize novel therapies grounded on Agios’ novel cellular metabolism research platform. The pharmaceutical will receive an upfront payment of $200 million, plus additional potential adjustments, if certain development and regulatory milestones are achieved.
Metabolic immuno-oncology is a fast-evolving scientific area focused on changing the metabolic state of immune cells or the tumor microenvironment to enhance a patient’s body response to cancer. There is increasing evidence that metabolism plays a key role in the regulation of immune cells and their response to tumors. The collaboration is set to discover novel metabolic pathways and their modulators that affect immune cells’ metabolic state – which might serve as potent anticancer therapies.
Additionally, Agios will work toward discovering molecular markers that will identify patients most likely to respond to the therapies.
“Metabolic immuno-oncology is an exciting new area of research for Agios that holds tremendous promise for patients and builds on our strength in cellular metabolism,” said Agios’ chief executive officer, Dr. David Schenkein. “Following our successful cancer metabolism partnership, we look forward to continuing our work with Celgene in this new field. This strategic alliance will allow Agios to quickly expand our existing research platform into a third core area while leveraging Celgene’s capabilities and broad portfolio of immuno-oncology assets.”
Agios is currently studying AG-120 – a first-in-class, oral, potent inhibitor of mutant isocitrate dehydrogenase 1 (IDH1) – in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in multiple clinical trials, either as a single agent in the relapsed/refractory (r/r) setting, or in combination with standard chemotherapies. Agios is planning to start pivotal trials in AML and is exploring AG-120’s potential in several solid tumors, including cholangiocarcinoma and glioma.
The companies will also adjust certain rights from their last collaboration, in 2010:
- Agios, previously holding U.S. rights for AG-120, now gained further global development and commercialization rights from Celgene.
- Starting August 15, 2016, none of the parties will have financial or other obligations related to AG-120.
- The companies agreed that rights to two cancer metabolism programs discovered under the 2010 agreement – including one focused on MTAP (methylthioadenosine phosphorylase) deleted cancers – will advance under the structure of the new research collaboration now outlined.
- All other cancer metabolism programs discovered at Agios will remain fully owned by the pharmaceutical.
“We are excited to consolidate the full worldwide rights for AG-120, providing us with another wholly owned investigational therapy discovered by Agios scientists to develop and commercialize along with our rare genetic disorders programs,” Schenkein said. “We know that people with AML have limited treatment options today, and we are committed to bringing AG-120 through pivotal development as quickly as possible.”