Cash-strapped biotech flips ex-MedImmune anti-inflammatory drug for $15M cash
Having turned to layoffs earlier this year to tighten its financial belt, microcap biotech Avalo Therapeutics has now added some much-needed cash to the bank.
The Rockville, MD-based biotech is selling AVTX-007 (camoteskimab), an IL-18 antibody, to the UK’s Apollo Therapeutics, which is dishing out $15 million to grab the drug and promising up to $74 million in milestones. Apollo will be in charge of all future development.
“This transaction is critically important to Avalo,” CEO Garry Neil said in a statement. “It extends our cash runway and allows us to increase our focus on our lead molecule, AVTX-002, and our ongoing phase 2 PEAK trial evaluating AVTX-002 for the treatment of non-eosinophilic asthma.”
This is just the latest twist in camoteskimab’s winding development journey. The antibody had originated in AstraZeneca’s now-defunct MedImmune subsidiary, where it was designated MEDI2338. In 2019, Aevi Genomic Medicine licensed it for what would later be revealed as $6 million in cash and equity, in addition to milestones.
The drug later got folded into Cerecor when the company acquired Aevi in an all-stock deal valued at $15.6 million. Then a year ago, Cerecor rebranded as Avalo.
Before it did, Cerecor actually started Phase I trials testing camoteskimab as a treatment for multiple myeloma and adult onset Still’s disease, a rare inflammatory disorder.
Records on clinicaltrials.gov suggest the multiple myeloma trial is now complete while the Still’s disease study is still recruiting — even though it was supposed to wrap back in March.
Apollo, whose “portfolio-based” business model revolves around a central team of drug development “architects” working alongside subject matter experts across more than a dozen programs, did not specify its plans with the drug, noting only that it will build upon the work done to date.
“With our university partners we have built translational leadership in three core areas of biological focus — immunology, cell signaling, and cell stress responses and metabolism — and the addition of this Phase 2 ready antibody for an important inflammasome target substantially accelerates the growth of our pipeline in this area of immunology, where we are advancing additional preclinical programs,” CEO Richard Mason said. “We seek further opportunities to acquire clinical assets in our areas of biological and therapeutic focus.”