Drug Development

Post-PhIII implosion, Celldex buys oncology drug developer Kolltan in $235M deal

Gerald McMahon, CEO, Kolltan

Gerald McMahon, CEO, Kolltan

Eight months after watching expectations for its cancer vaccine Rintega (rindopepimut) implode in a failed Phase III glioblastoma study, Celldex Therapeutics $CLDX is doing some pipeline reconstruction, buying out Kolltan Pharmaceuticals in an all-stock deal.

Kolltan investors get $62.5 million in Celldex stock up front, along with $172.5 million for a slate of milestones in the deal. In exchange, Celldex gets a pipeline of oncology programs consisting of antibody-based drugs targeting receptor tyrosine kinases, or RTKs.

“Kolltan’s programs targeting KIT, ErbB3 and TAM receptors potentially address major challenges surrounding tumor resistance mechanisms in cancer biology,” said Gerald McMahon, the CEO at Kolltan, who went on to praise their background at Medarex working on antibody development.

Kolltan tried, and failed, to push through an $86 million IPO back in the go-go days of 2014.

Their portfolio includes:

  • KTN0158 — a humanized monoclonal antibody that is a potent inhibitor of KIT activation in tumor cells and mast cells; currently in a Phase 1 dose escalation study in refractory gastrointestinal stromal tumors.
  • KTN3379 — a human monoclonal antibody designed to block the activity of ErbB3 (HER3); clinical activity including meaningful responses and stable disease has been observed in a Phase 1b study in cetuximab (Erbitux) refractory patients in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma and in BRAF-mutant non-small cell lung cancer.
  • A TAM program, which includes a “broad antibody discovery effort underway to generate antibodies that modulate the TAM family of RTKs, comprised of Tyro3, AXL and MerTK.”


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