AbbVie puts up $40M to license a treatment from HotSpot Therapeutics
HotSpot Therapeutics has managed to gain some steam financially in the past few years, as the company wrangled several multi-million dollar raises. But its latest deal not only puts more cash into its pockets, it also connects with a major name in pharma.
On Tuesday, AbbVie and HotSpot announced they have entered an “exclusive” global collaboration, with the option to license HotSpot’s IRF5 program, which is designed to treat autoimmune diseases. The deal will see AbbVie hand HotSpot $40 million upfront, with the biotech eligible to receive $295 million in “option fees” and R&D milestones.
The deal also has the potential for further commercial milestones and other royalties on global net sales. If AbbVie does exercise the option, the pharma will conduct all future clinical development, manufacturing and commercialization for the program. HotSpot would have a one-time option to share in the R&D costs in exchange for a boost to the royalty payments.
The IRF5 protein itself acts as a regulator of certain types of immune responses, and its dysregulation is a factor in several autoimmune disorders. Efforts to modulate IRF5 using the standard small molecule approaches have not been very successful due to the molecule lacking a “traditional active site,” the biotech says. HotSpot, using its platform, is designing a small molecule IRF5 inhibitor that targets an unknown pocket on the protein that is critical for regulation.
It’s not clear what stage of testing this program has reached, or if it’s been studied in humans yet. In an email to Endpoints News HotSpot COO Eva Jack said that it has not provided any guidance for the timeline to the clinic at this point as the IRF5 program is currently in the discovery stage.
“This collaboration with HotSpot has the potential to deliver an entirely new target class of modulators to patients with serious autoimmune diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosus, and will help to further strengthen our robust immunology pipeline,” Jonathon Sedgwick, VP and global head of discovery research at AbbVie, said in a statement.
Sedgwick also added in his statement that the drug discovery platform has been able to find molecules that can bind to the IRF5 protein that can effectively drug “what has been considered an undruggable target.”
AbbVie has been shelling out millions for deals with biotechs in 2022. In May, the Chicago-based pharma started collaborating with the private biotech Cugene to advance a single Treg program targeting IL-2, spending $48.5 million in upfront costs and an undisclosed sum of milestones and royalties to go along with it.
On the West Coast, the San Diego-based biotech Plexium inked a deal with AbbVie as the pharma hoped to use Plexium’s “agnostic” targeted protein degradation (TPD) platform to screen for new therapies for neurological diseases, Plexium announced in April. That deal included a $35 million upfront and $530 million in downstream milestones, along with future royalties.