Novartis has agreed to a collaborative and licensing venture with Xencor, a biopharma that specializes in the engineering of monoclonal antibodies for the treatment of autoimmune diseases, asthma and allergic diseases, and cancer. The agreement opens the door to a greater diversity of therapeutic options in Novartis’ immuno-oncology product line.
Antibodies are important components of the immune system that mark foreign “invaders” for destruction whether they be viral, bacterial, or oncogenic. A monoclonal antibody is engineered in a laboratory with a specific function to attach to cancer cells within the body and mark them for destruction by the immune system. These engineered antibodies work the same way as the body’s naturally produced antibodies.
Under the terms of the licensing agreement, Novartis will share worldwide development costs for two of the monoclonal antibodies in Xencor’s pipeline — XmAb14045 and XmAb13676 — with Xencor receiving an upfront payment of $150 million with the potential for future royalties if the program is successful.
Novartis has commercialization rights outside of the U.S., and Xencor has commercialization rights in the U.S. Novartis will also receive a non-exclusive license to use Xencor’s XmAb Fc technologies in up to 10 molecules within its own immuno-oncology development pipeline.
In a Novartis press release, Dr. Jay Bradner, M.D., president of the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, said the collaboration is part of the company’s strategy to join forces with tech innovators who can help Novartis advance new medicines to the clinic. “We look forward to working with the Xencor team to advance these programs in immuno-oncology and to using their antibody engineering platform to develop biotherapeutics for additional diseases,” Bradner added.
Bradner’s enthusiasm was shared by his colleagues at Xencor.
“We believe our flexible bispecific oncology platform has substantial potential,” said Xencor President and CEO Dr. Bassil Dahiyat, Ph.D. “Our programs are built on a novel XmAb Fc domain, which allows for the rapid creation of drug candidates … As we announced earlier this morning, we are excited to collaborate with Novartis on the development of our two lead bispecific oncology programs.”
For patients and their healthcare providers, partnerships like this may help get successful therapies to markets faster and more efficiently.