BioNTech Continues to Build Pipeline with First Deal of 2024

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Pictured: Sign outside BioNTech's building in Germany/iStock, U. J. Alexander

BioNTech continued its pivot from the pandemic, forging another early-stage deal Wednesday. The German biotech announced it is dropping $20 million upfront for two of WuXi Biologics’ preclinical monoclonal antibodies. 

The German biotech gains exclusive rights to develop the antibodies into next-generation therapeutics, while WuXi will be eligible for milestone payments and tiered royalties down the line.  

Therapeutic targets of these investigational mAbs are yet to be disclosed. However, BioNTech made its 2024 goals clear at the annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference this week—to have ten or more registrational trials in its pipeline by the end of 2024. The company significantly expanded its mid- and late-stage oncology pipeline in 2023 with late-stage trials ongoing in multiple cancer indications, Ugur Sahin, BioNTech's CEO and co-founder, said in a press release Tuesday.  

The biotech has certainly been backing its cancer goals with R&D investments over the past year.  

In November 2023, BioNTech acquired a bispecific antibody for advanced solid tumors from Biotheus for an upfront payment of $55 million. While Biotheus retains commercialization rights outside of China, the deal is worth potentially over $1 billion for the company.  

Prior to that, BioNTech shelled out $70 million on a collaboration and licensing deal with MediLink Therapeutics in October 2023. The contract has a value of more than $1 billion in milestone payments for next-gen antibody-drug conjugates (ADC) for cancer. BioNTech now has exclusive rights outside of the Greater China region to develop MediLink’s ADC assets targeting the HER3 protein. 

In April 2023, the company paid $170 million upfront to another Shanghai-based company—Duality Biologics. The Duality deal also included two solid tumor ADCs in development, one of which has already received Fast Track Designation from the FDA.  

If successful, more than $1.5 billion is up for grabs for DualityBio in milestone payments plus tiered royalties. The company also gets to hold on to its commercial rights in parts of China and has the option to co-develop the second asset in the U.S. market. 

And the Duality deal came just two weeks after BioNTech paid OncoC4 $200 million upfront to develop and commercialize its investigational anti-CTLA-4 antibody ONC-392 for solid tumors. 

“This year will be a year of significant execution at BioNTech as we continue to expand and develop our innovative pipeline towards our first oncology launches expected from 2026 onwards,” Sahin said in a statement regarding the company’s 2024 priorities. 

Kate Goodwin is a freelance life science writer based in Des Moines, Iowa. She can be reached at kate.goodwin@biospace.com and on LinkedIn.   

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