Innate Pharma moves on from a trial disaster with a €40M in-licensing pact with Novo Nordisk

Mondher Mahjoubi, Innate

Just four months after its lead therapy lirilumab flunked a mid-stage test fighting acute myeloid leukemia, France’s Innate Pharma has exchanged a chunk of equity for a new immuno-oncology drug candidate from Novo Nordisk.

The drug — which Novo has tested in a pair of Phase I rheumatoid arthritis studies — is an anti-C5aR antibody aimed at the “accumulation and activation of myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC) and neutrophils in the tumor microenvironment.”

Innate is giving Novo Nordisk an upfront payment of €40 million, of which €37.2 million is coming in new Innate Pharma shares, with only €2.8 million in cash. Novo Nordisk will be eligible for €370 million in development, regulatory and sales milestone payments as well as double-digit royalties on net sales.

Innate CEO Mondher Mahjoubi commented:

With the acquisition of the first-in-class anti-C5aR antibody, we are broadening our proprietary clinical pipeline. We believe anti-C5aR has a high potential for cancer patients in multiple indications and look forward to beginning clinical development of this promising asset in 2018. Innate Pharma has a strong track record of value creation from in-licensed assets with lirilumab and monalizumab. This acquisition strengthens our asset base further and supports Innate Pharma’s transition towards becoming a fully-integrated biopharmaceutical company.

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