The bispecific boom: Genentech pays $120M to tie the knot with Xencor on an IL-15 alliance

Genentech is fronting $120 million to partner up with Xencor $XNCR on its IL-15 cytokine work, nabbing co-development rights to the late preclinical drug XmAb24306 along with future candidates to come.

Bassil Dahiyat

The collaboration will be jointly funded, with both companies splitting costs and any profits that come out of it. In addition, the big Roche subsidiary has agreed to pay up to $160 million in milestones for the lead program, with up to $180 million more for each new drug they find during a joint discovery program over the next 2 years.

The deal is primarily focused on cancer, but the antibody engineering approach that Xencor brings to the table can be applied in a variety of disease arenas.

Xencor reported last spring that it was planning a 2019 IND filing for the spotlight drug here. It’s an L15/IL15Ra-Fc bispecific antibody developed with their platform tech. And like the GSK/Merck KGaA deal that also came together Tuesday morning, the alliance highlights the growing role that bispecifics are playing in the oncology field as leaders and followers look to vault ahead in an intense competition for next-gen approvals. 

Combo studies feature prominently in the field.

Bassil Dahiyat, president and chief executive officer at Xencor, noted:

A wide-ranging combination strategy will be critical to realize the potential of IL-15 bispecific cytokines such as XmAb24306, so we plan to explore our cytokines with a broad spectrum of leading commercial-stage and investigational cancer therapies.

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