Swiss pharma Basilea sheds yet another oncology program as anti-infectives pivot plows forward
Acting on its plans to discard its oncology pipeline, Swiss company Basilea Pharmaceutica has decided to sell its cancer drug BAL0891 to Korean biotech SillaJen for $14 million upfront.
Basilea had announced its decision to ditch its oncology pipeline in February, as a part of a reorganization of its R&D pipeline around anti-infectives, including its two approved drugs in that space. Tuesday’s sale will also fetch Basilea additional milestone payments of up to $320 million and tiered royalties on net sales.
“This transaction marks an important step on our path to be a focused anti-infectives company,” said Basilea’s CFO Adesh Kaul in a press statement.
Basilea had initially in-licensed the drug in 2018 from a Dutch company called NTRC Therapeutics. Under this collaboration, NTRC was eligible to receive milestones up to CHF 170 million ($175 million) and royalties.
Since then, Basilea handheld the drug into getting an IND from the FDA in 2021, allowing it to start a Phase I clinical trial. While Basilea had planned to initiate the trial in the first quarter of 2022, it is unclear how that will progress with the new SillaJen deal in place.
Meanwhile, Basilea has also decided to sell the intellectual property rights from the NTRC deal to SillaJen, according to the press statement. Basilea, however, will remain responsible for making milestone and royalty payments to NTRC.
BAL0891 is a mitotic checkpoint inhibitor designed to push cells through mitosis without adequate time for correct chromosome segregation. This will, the biotech contends, result in aberrant tumor cell division leading to tumor cell death. Preclinical studies had shown potential across multiple cancer types such as breast, gastric and colorectal cancer.
Basilea has been steadily getting rid of its other oncology programs as well. On Sept. 8, Basilea announced it had sold its novel PARG inhibitor discovery program to the UK-based Nodus Oncology for CHF 242 million ($250 million). PARG is an enzyme essential in the repair of DNA damage, and its inhibition leads to anti-cancer effects.
The company also said it was not going to expand the studies on its other oncology drug lisavanbulin. Along the same lines, Baselia also announced it had decided to scrap a licensing deal for one of its other cancer drugs, derazantinib, and return the rights to Merck by the end of the year.
Basilea had said its restructuring plans would cut its operating expenses by roughly 30% in 2023, aiming to put the company on the path to profitability.