Partnering News: Sanofi, Lilly, Pfizer & More
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A roundup of bio/pharmaceutical partnering news from Merck & Co./PeptiDream, Sanofi/Innate Pharma, Eli Lilly and Company/PeptiDream, Merck KGaA/Mersana, Eli Lilly and Company/Sosei Heptares, Gilead Sciences/EVOQ Therapeutics, Eli Lilly and Company/ProQR, Pfizer/LianBio and Biogen/Roche. 

* Merck & Co., PeptiDream in $2.1-Bn Pact for Peptide Drug Conjugates  
* Sanofi, Innate In $1.43-Bn Oncology Drug Pact   
* Lilly, PeptiDream in $1.24-Bn Pact for Peptide Drug Conjugates
* Merck KGaA, Mersana In $830-M Pact for ADCs 
* Lilly, Sosei Heptares in $694-M Diabetes, Metabolic Disease Drug Pact 
* Gilead, EVOQ Therapeutics in $659-M Immunotherapy Pact
* Lilly, ProQR Expand RNA Pact by up to $125 M
* Pfizer Exercises Option to Develop RSV Drug with Chinese Partner LianBio 
* Biogen, Roche Clarify Terms of Antibody Alliance  


Merck & Co., PeptiDream in $2.1-Bn Pact for Peptide Drug Conjugates 
Merck & Co. and PeptiDream, a Kanagawa, Japan-based bio/pharmaceutical company, have entered an agreement focused on the discovery and development of peptide drug conjugates (PDCs) in a deal worth up to $2.1 billion. 

Under the agreement, PeptiDream will provide peptide candidates identified from PeptiDream’s Peptide Discovery Platform System technology for use as PDCs against targets of interest to Merck & Co. Merck will have exclusive rights to the peptide candidates for conjugation to cytotoxic payloads and will be responsible for all development aspects of any PDC products arising from the collaboration. 

Under the agreement, PeptiDream will receive an upfront payment from Merck & Co. and be eligible for payments based on the achievement of specified development, regulatory, and commercial milestones potentially totaling up to $2.1 billion. In addition, PeptiDream is eligible to receive royalties on net sales of any such products. 

Source: PeptiDream 


Sanofi, Innate In $1.43-Bn Oncology Drug Pact 
Sanofi and Innate Pharma, a Marseille, France-based bio/pharmaceutical company, have expanded their oncology drug collaboration for natural killer cell therapeutics, in a deal worth up to $1.43 billion ($27 million upfront and $1.42 billion in milestone payments). 

Under the new agreement, Sanofi is licensing a natural killer (NK) cell engager program targeting homolog 3 protein (B7-H3), an immune checkpoint molecule and a immunoregulatory protein that plays a role in the immune system from Innate’s Anket (Antibody-based NK Cell Engager Therapeutics) platform and will have the option to add up to two additional Anket targets  

Upon candidate selection, Sanofi will be responsible for all development, manufacturing, and commercialization of the candidate. Innate and Sanofi signed a first NK-cell engagers collaboration in 2016 for the generation and evaluation of up to two bispecific NK cell engagers, which are currently being evaluated by Sanofi’s R&D team. One of these molecules is already in clinical studies (as reported on December 19, 2022). 

Under the terms of the new license agreement, Innate will receive EUR 25 million ($27 million) upfront payment and up to EUR 1.35 billion ($1.43 billion) total in preclinical, clinical, regulatory and commercial milestones) plus royalties on potential net sales. Closing of the transaction is subject to regulatory approval. 

Source: Sanofi 


Lilly, PeptiDream in $1.24-Bn Pact for Peptide Drug Conjugates 
Eli Lilly and Company and PeptiDream, a Kanagawa, Japan-based bio/pharmaceutical company, have entered into an agreement focused on the discovery and development of peptide drug conjugates (PDCs) in a deal worth up to $1.24 billion. 

Under the agreement, PeptiDream will use its Peptide Discovery Platform System technology to identify high-affinity macrocyclic peptide ligands to Lilly-elected targets of interest, capable of delivering a Lilly conjugated payload to certain cells and tissues of interest to Lilly. PeptiDream will lead peptide discovery and optimization efforts, and Lilly will lead payload discovery and optimization efforts. Lilly will be responsible for all development aspects of any PDC products arising from the collaboration. 

Under the agreement, PeptiDream will receive an upfront payment from Lilly as well as be eligible for payments based on the achievement of specified development, regulatory, and commercial milestones potentially totaling up to $1.24 billion. In addition, PeptiDream is eligible to receive royalties on net sales of any such products. 

Source: PeptiDream 


Merck KGaA, Mersana In $830-M Pact for ADCs 
Merck KGaA and Mersana Therapeutics, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based bio/pharmaceutical company, have entered an agreement to discover antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) using Mersana’s Immunosynthen STING-agonist ADC platform, directed against up to two targets, in a deal worth up to $830 million ($30 million upfront and $800 million in milestone payments).  

The Immunosynthen platform is designed to generate systemically administered ADCs that locally activate STING and innate immune response that can lead to anti-tumor activity and immunological memory, to signal both tumor-resident immune cells and antigen-expressing tumor cells to provide anti-tumor potential of innate immune stimulation. 

Under the agreement, Mersana will develop ADC product candidates against up to two targets using its Immunosynthen platform to conjugate proprietary antibodies from Merck KGaA. Pre-clinical activities will be split between the companies. Merck KGaA will be solely responsible for all clinical development and potential commercialization activities relating to any resulting product candidates. 

Mersana will receive an upfront payment of $30 million. Mersana is also eligible to receive reimbursement of certain costs, up to $800 million in potential regulatory, development and commercial milestone payments, and up to low double-digit percentage royalties on worldwide net sales of any approved ADCs developed under the agreement. 

Source: Merck KGaA 


Lilly, Sosei Heptares In $694-M Diabetes, Metabolic Disease Drug Pact 
Eli Lilly and Company and Sosei Heptares, a Tokyo-based bio/pharmaceutical company, have entered a collaboration to discover, develop and commercialize small molecules that modulate G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) targets associated with diabetes and metabolic diseases in a deal worth up to $694 million ($37 million upfront and $657 million in milestone payments).  

Under the agreement, Sosei Heptares will focus its efforts on multiple GPCR targets nominated by Lilly to deliver l target-selective small molecule candidates for further development and commercialization. 

Sosei Heptares receives an upfront payment of $37 million on signing and is eligible to receive development and commercial milestones totaling up to $694 million, plus tiered royalties on global sales. 

Source: Sosei Heptares 


Gilead, EVOQ Therapeutics in $659-M Immunotherapy Pact 
Gilead Sciences and EVOQ Therapeutics, an Ann Arbor, Michigan-based immunotherapy company, have entered an agreement to advance EVOQ’s technology for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and lupus in a deal worth up to $659 million.  

Under the agreement, Gilead and EVOQ will collaborate on preclinical development. Gilead has the option to exclusively license rights to EVOQ’s NanoDisc technology to pursue product candidates for RA and lupus indications and will be responsible for clinical development and commercialization. 

Under the agreement, EVOQ could potentially receive up to $658.5 million in total in upfront, option exercise and milestone payments across all programs, as well as tiered royalties on product sales. 

Source: Gilead Sciences 


Lilly, ProQR Expand RNA Pact by up to $125-M 
Eli Lilly and Company and ProQR Therapeutics, a Leiden, the Netherlands-based bio/pharmaceutical company, have expanded their agreement focused on the discovery, development, and commercialization of new genetic medicines. 

The collaboration, originally announced in September 2021, applied ProQR’s Axiomer RNA editing platform to target disorders of the liver and nervous system. Through the course of work to date, advances in the platform have increased editing efficiency and refined biodistribution in both the liver and nervous system, opening new potential applications to not only correct known mutations, but also introduce protective variants in specific transcripts. Through this expanded collaboration, Lilly and ProQR will explore further applications of the Axiomer platform to unlock new innovative treatments diseases with high unmet medical need. 

Under the expanded agreement, Lilly will gain access to additional targets in the central nervous system and peripheral nervous system with ProQR’s Axiomer platform. ProQR will receive $75 million consisting of an upfront payment, as well as an equity investment. Lilly will have the ability to exercise an option to further expand the partnership for a consideration of $50 million. In addition, Lilly can elect to provide ProQR with access to the company’s proprietary delivery technology for its wholly owned pipeline. 

Based on its original September 2021 agreement and the expanded agreement, in total, ProQR is eligible to receive up to approximately $3.75 billion in research, development and commercialization milestones, as well as tiered royalties of up to mid-single digit percentage on product sales. 

Source: Eli Lilly and Company 


Pfizer Exercises Option to Develop RSV Drug with Chinese Partner LianBio 
Pfizer and LianBio, a Shanghai-based bio/pharmaceutical company, have entered into an agreement under which Pfizer will obtain the right to develop and commercialize sisunatovir, a respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) therapeutic candidate, in China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Singapore, in a deal worth up to $135 million ($20 million upfront and $135 million in milestone payments). 

Sisunatovir is an investigational, orally administered fusion inhibitor designed to block RSV replication by inhibiting F-mediated fusion with the host cell. Sisunatovir is being evaluated for the potential treatment of RSV infection in pediatric and adult patients. 

In June 2022, Pfizer acquired ReViral and its portfolio of RSV therapeutic candidates except for development and commercialization rights for sisunatovir in China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Singapore, which LianBio had previously in-licensed from ReViral in March 2021. 

Under the agreement, LianBio will receive a $20 million upfront payment and is eligible to receive up to $135 million in potential development and commercial milestone payments and tiered low single digit percent of sisunatovir net sales in the territories. Pfizer will assume all development and commercial activities and costs in the region and will release LianBio from its royalty and milestone obligations for sisunatovir. 

Source: LianBio  


Biogen, Roche Clarify Terms of Antibody Alliance 
Biogen and Roche have reached an agreement for the commercialization and sharing of economics for glofitamab, an antibody for the treatment of lymphoma. Under the agreement, Biogen will have no payment obligations and will receive tiered royalties on potential net sales of glofitamab within the United States as part of the companies long-standing collaboration on antibodies targeting CD20. 

Glofitamab is an investigational CD20xCD3 T-cell engaging bispecific antibody being developed by Roche for the treatment of B-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas, including diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), mantle cell lymphoma, and other blood cancers.  

Roche will have sole decision-making rights on the commercialization of glofitamab within the United States and, in the event of approval, Biogen is eligible to receive tiered royalties in the mid-single digits range on potential net sales of glofitamab within the United States. 

Source: Biogen