AbbVie/Calico Innovation Engine Will Keep On Chugging Against Age-Related Diseases


There’s something special that happens when two people – or in this case, entities – really like each other. Problems are solved, wars are won – and for long-time partners, AbbVie and Google (Alphabet)’s Calico Life Sciences, that is certainly shaping up to be the case.

The pair has advanced three programs to the clinic, with 20 early-stage efforts across immuno-oncology and neurodegeneration coming up right behind them, and on Tuesday, they announced that the collaboration would be extended through 2025. The extension will see a new investment of nearly $1 billion, which AbbVie and Calico will split down the middle.

Under the terms of the agreement, Calico will be responsible for research and early development until 2025 and will see collaborative projects into Phase IIa through 2030. For its part, AbbVie will support Calico during early development and reserve the option to shepherd late-stage development and manage commercial activities for successful products.

"Our collaboration has evolved into an innovation engine, particularly for novel targets in the oncology and immuno-oncology space, that could break new ground for challenging, age-related diseases," said Tom Hudson, M.D., senior vice president, R&D, and chief scientific officer at AbbVie.

The story began seven years ago in 2014 when the companies first struck a partnership to combine Calico’s discovery and early development capabilities with AbbVie’s R&D and commercial expertise to advance innovative new therapies to the market.

The initial deal paved the way for Calico, led by former Genentech heavyweight, Arthur D. Levinson Ph.D., to establish an R&D facility in the San Francisco Bay area focused on aging and age-related diseases.

“We set out seven years ago to bring forth a unique partnership with AbbVie that we believed could yield both novel insights into the biology of aging and first-in-class targets for age-related diseases,” said Levinson, who serves as Calico’s chief executive. 

Two of the collaborative molecules currently in Phase I development (ABBV-CLS-579 and ABBV-CLS-484) are novel, orally bioavailable Protein Tyrosine Phosphatase Non-receptor Type 2 (PTPN2) inhibitors, which act at multiple steps in the cancer immunity cycle. PTPN2 has been implicated in reducing tumor cells' responses to immunotherapy.

The duo’s lead molecule, ABBV-CLS-7262, is an eIF2B activator targeting a key regulator of the highly conserved integrated stress response pathway. Also presently in Phase I, the companies plan to launch a study later in 2021 in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) patients. Inhibition of this pathway also has potential benefits in Parkinson’s disease and traumatic brain injury.

"Our three clinical initiatives and more than 20 discovery and preclinical programs to date are clear evidence of how productive a partnership we've established,” said Calico's head of research and development, Aarif Khakoo, M.D.  “This additional extension validates our original vision and is a testament to the collective efforts of many people from both organizations who are working to deepen our understanding of specific disease pathways and develop novel therapies for patients."  

This is the second recommitment announcement for AbbVie and Calico. The partnership was first extended for four years in 2018.

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