Roche’s Genentech, Xencor Form $460-Million Deal for Cytokine Therapeutics
Roche’s Genentech and Xencor, a Monrovia, California-based clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, have formed a research and license agreement to develop and commercialize IL-15 cytokine therapeutics in a deal worth up to $460 million.
Xencor is developing engineered monoclonal antibodies for the treatment of autoimmune disease, asthma and allergic disease, and cancer. Its deal with Genentech includes XmAb24306, an IL-15/IL-15Rα cytokine complex engineered with Xencor’s bispecific Fc domain and Xtend Fc technology and is Xencor’s most advanced preclinical cytokine program.
Under the agreement, the companies will co-develop XmAb24306 and other potential IL-15 programs, in which the companies will share development costs and profits. Genentech will commercialize medicines worldwide, and Xencor has the option to co-promote in the US. Additionally, the companies will engage in a two-year research program to discover new IL-15 drug candidates, including ones targeted to specific immune-cell populations. Genentech will pay Xencor $120 million upfront, and Xencor will be eligible to receive up to $160 million in development milestones for the XmAb24306 program and up to $180 million in development milestones for each new IL-15 drug candidate.
IL-15 is a highly active cytokine, or immune signaling protein, that when pre-complexed with IL-15 receptor alpha (IL-15Rα) will bind to IL-15Rβγ and stimulate the expansion and activation of natural killer (NK) cells and cytotoxic T cells, but with reduced regulatory T cell activation compared to IL-2, according to information from Xencor. The company says that IL-15 bispecific cytokine platform provides a more druggable version of IL-15 with potentially superior tolerability, slower receptor-mediated clearance and a prolonged half-life, and is intended for development with a wide range of combination agents due to its proposed mechanism of activating tumor-killing immune cells.
The agreement is subject to customary closing conditions, including clearance under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act, and closing is expected to occur in the first half of 2019.