AVEO Reclaims Full Global Rights to Antibody Drug from CANbridge

Michael Bailey Courtesy of AVEO Oncology

Michael Bailey, CEO / Courtesy of AVEO Oncology 

Nearly five years to the day after striking the deal, AVEO Oncology and CANBridge Life Sciences announce the termination of their collaboration and licensing agreement for AVEO’s AV-203.  

The drug works to inhibit ErbB3 signaling, a receptor expressed in many human cancers. An IgG1 antibody, AV-203 has already completed Phase I, proving its safety and tolerability with early signs of anti-tumor efficacy.  

In 2016, AVEO and CANbridge struck a $134 million deal granting CANbridge worldwide rights to the drug, outside of North America. In 2018, an IND for a Phase Ib/III clinical trial of AV-203 was accepted by the China National Drug Administration, triggering a $2 million milestone payment to AVEO.  

CANbridge’s initial interest in the drug was for development in esophageal squamous cell cancer (ESCC). ESCC is the most prevalent form of esophageal cancer, with around 50% of cases occurring in China. CANbridge’s vision is centered around developing Western drug candidates in China and North Asia.  

“By reacquiring rights to AV-203 outside of North America, we add global rights to a third IgG1 antibody clinical candidate within our internally developed and diverse portfolio of oncology therapeutics,” said Michael Bailey, president and chief executive officer of AVEO. “AV-203 has demonstrated early signs of activity in an NRG1+ patient that suggest it could have meaningful application in several areas of high unmet need in cancer. We look forward to advancing AV-203 in the clinic as part of our strategy for delivering long-term value from our pipeline programs.” 

Last week AVEO’s Fotivda got a surprise early approval from the FDA for adult patients with relapsed or refractory advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC) who have received two or more prior systemic therapies. The oral, once-daily, next-generation VEGFR TKI had been approved 3.5 years ago in the EU for use.  

The company then announced a clinical trial collaboration with Bristol Myers Squibb to study Fotivda in combination with BMS’s checkpoint inhibitor Opdivo. Fotivda recently completed a Phase Ib/II study in combination with Imfinzi for previously untreated metastatic hepatocellular carcinoma. The Phase Ib portion of the data was presented at the 2021 American Society of Clinical Oncology Gastrointestinal (ASCO GI) Cancers Symposium. 

With this new FDA approval, AVEO is looking to take its staff from just 19 employees last January to 119 by the end of this month in time for Fotivda's launch. More than half of those new hires will be in sales and marketing, according to CEO Bailey. 

AVEO is also looking to advance HGF IgG1 inhibitory antibody ficlatuzumab into a pivotal study in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. Another AVEO antibody candidate, AV-380, is expected to enter Phase I studies for cancer cachexia.  

BioSpace reached out the CANbridge regarding the decision to terminate the collaboration, but the company declined to comment. 

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