UPDATED: Alexion lines up $40M upfront deal with Halozyme to develop a better, easier next-gen followup to Soliris

The recent FDA approval for a revised version of Rituxan and human hyaluronidase enzyme (rHuPH20) as an easy injection has pointed Halozyme to a string of collaborations to do the same for a lineup of major drugs on the market. This morning, the biotech’s hot streak continued with a $40 million upfront pact with Alexion, which wants the delivery tech to turn its next-gen PNH therapy ALXN-1210 into a subcutaneous injectable.

The deal covers 4 programs in total, with $160 million each in milestones, or up to $640 million.

Ludwig Hantson, Alexion

ALXN-1210 is already positioning itself as a promising follow-up to Soliris, the pricey treatment for rare cases of paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria. By turning to Halozyme $HALO, Alexion $ALXN is hoping to turn around a Phase III study showing how this new tech — which degrades hyaluronan, a glycosaminoglycan or chain of natural sugars in the body — can turn the IV drug into a therapy that can be injected under the skin. And there are other plans to study the impact of dosing the drug over longer intervals, every other week and once a month.

The conversion promises to bring down the cost of treatment and offer patients a much easier regimen, which will help Alexion stave off competitors that are hard at work on rivals to Soliris. That’s a critical step for a company that has little else going on in the pipeline, a situation that CEO Ludwig Hantson plans to change as he moves the company to Boston.

Just a few months ago Bristol-Myers Squibb fronted $105 million to get work on a new version of Opdivo using the Halozyme tech. Roche added another drug to their pact, with an added $190 million in upfront and milestones.

Helen Torley, Halozyme

Helen Torley, the CEO at Halozyme, is happy to be stepping into the spotlight with a string of these deals for the Enhanze platform, especially after registering a setback for its pipeline effort. She says:

Enhanze has become the industry standard for converting intravenous therapies to a subcutaneous delivery, helping partners and health care providers reduce the treatment burden and administration time for patients.

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