Exelixis taps into cancer antibody discoverer out of Sweden
Exelixis is doling out $25 million to snag rights to choose three targets found by BioInvent.
The California cancer drugmaker is linking arms with the Swedish biotech — both founded in the mid 90s — to expand its suite of antibodies for immuno-oncology. BioInvent will offer up its cancer immunology and antibody biology chops and Exelixis will bring its antibody-drug conjugate tech to the table.
BioInvent will use its so-called n-CoDeR antibody library and screening platform to find the three yet-disclosed targets. The Lund, Sweden biotech will be responsible for characterizing the antibodies’ mechanism of action, and then Exelixis has the right to in-license development candidates directed to those targets.
Option exercise fees and milestones are potentially on deck for BioInvent. Tiered royalties, too, if any products make it to market. Exelixis has experience on that front, with multiple approved therapies, including Cometriq, Cotellic and Cabometyx.
“Exelixis has a demonstrated track record of success in both commercializing important new oncology medicines and establishing highly productive collaborations that integrate diverse and complementary skill sets and technologies — such as toxin and cytokine conjugation of monoclonal antibodies for ADC and bispecific monoclonal antibody technologies — to enable the identification and development of innovative therapies with significant clinical and commercial potential,” BioInvent CEO Martin Welschof said in a statement.
Exelixis’ new partner has inked a slate of deals over its 26-year history. BioInvent’s biotech buddies include a potentially $500 million collaboration with Pfizer, a 50/50 solid tumor program with Transgene, an exclusive license with CASI Pharmaceuticals to take its early-stage cancer drug to China, trial agreements to test Merck’s Keytruda in combo studies, an antibody deal with Bayer Healthcare and other antibody discovery partners.
Also on Thursday, BioInvent’s nomination committee proposed adding Natalie Berner and Nanna Lüneborg to the board. Berner is a managing partner at BioInvent’s largest shareholder, Redmile Group, and Lüneborg is a general partner at Forbion, now a 5% shareholder of the biotech, as of earlier this month.