Pharma, R&D

After a long march with Cabo, Exelixis is expanding its focus with an antibody-drug conjugate deal

Michael Morrissey

Nine years ago, when Michael Morrissey took over the helm at Exelixis as George Scangos headed to Biogen, he made a careful point of circling the wagons around Cabometyx and taking it into the market. Now, he and the executive team are taking another step outside that path as the biotech slowly expands its focus and pipeline.

Peter Lamb

It’s not a big money deal. Exelixis is paying $7.5 million — plus preclinical financing support — to gain an exclusive licensing option on an antibody-drug conjugate called ICON-2 from Iconic Therapeutics. Exelixis CSO Peter Lamb says he likes the way this drug targets Tissue Factor. The way Exelixis sees it:

TF overexpression, while not oncogenic itself, facilitates angiogenesis, metastasis and other processes important to tumor development and progression. ICON-2 is a rationally designed second-generation ADC with potential for an improved therapeutic index and safety profile.

And ADCs are hot right now, with a multitude of rivals looking to add this tech to their pipelines.

Exelixis’ option gives it rights to step in at the IND stage, at which point it will be on the hook for a variety of milestones. The new deal marks Exelixis’ third pact, following up on a collaboration with Invenra on multispecific antibodies a year ago.

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