Biopharma Companies Entering 2021 With New Collabs, Partnerships

Acquisition Puzzle

As the world enters a new year, several partnerships and strategic collaborations have been announced across a variety of different biopharma and biotech companies. Here’s a run-down of some of the most recent collaboration announcements this week.

argenx and Zai Lab Collab on Efgartigimod for Autoimmune Indications

Global immunology company Argenx announced it has entered into an exclusive license agreement with Zai Lab. This collaboration will support the development and commercialization of investigational antibody fragment efgartigimod in the Greater China region.

Efgartigimod reduces disease-causing immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies and blocks the IgG recycling process as well as the neonatal Fc receptor. Ultimately, the therapy may provide an effective treatment approach for autoimmune diseases associated with disease-causing IgG antibodies, such as myasthenia gravis pemphigus vulgaris, immune thrombocytopenia and chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy.

The agreement between the two companies gives Zai Lab the responsibility of recruiting patients from Greater China to argenx’s global registrational trials for efgartigimod. Also, the partnership will enable argenx to expedite the development of efgartigimod by way of starting new Phase II proof-of-concept trials in new autoimmune disease indications.

Under terms of the collaboration agreement, Zai Lab will provide argenx with $175 million in collaboration payments. These payments include a $75 million upfront payment comprising 568,182 newly issued Zai Lab shares, $75 million non-creditable, non-refundable development cost-sharing payment as well as a $25 million milestone payment once efgartigimod has been approved in the U.S. Tiered royalties based on per-year net sales of the therapy in Greater China were also written into the deal.

Dewpoint Therapeutics and Pfizer Partner on Muscular Dystrophy

Boston-based Dewpoint Therapeutics is partnering with Pfizer to support the development and research of potential treatment for rare genetic disorder myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1). The research collaboration sees Dewpoint receiving an upfront payment as well as research, development and sales milestones payments totaling $239 million. In addition, Dewpoint will be eligible for royalty payments on approved therapies.

"The development of treatments for rare diseases, such as DM1, is a complex and rapidly evolving area of science, underscoring the importance of emerging research like this," according to a statement by Uwe Schoenbeck, Pfizer’s Senior Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer, External Science & Innovation. "Through our combined expertise, we believe this collaboration has the potential to advance novel therapeutic solutions for patients in need."

CureVac and Bayer Strike COVID-19 Alliance

In its quest to find a solution to the COVID-19 pandemic, German biotech company CureVac has entered into an alliance with Bayer. The alliance will help CureVac in seeking regulatory approval for its investigational COVID-19 vaccine candidate CVnCoV. Also, Bayer will assist CureVac in distributing doses, pending regulatory review and approval of the vaccine. "Building on the positive data we have seen so far with CVnCoV,” CureVac’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Franz-Werner Haas, said in a statement, “we now also have another strong partner on our side to get the vaccine to the people who need it following the receipt of the requisite regulatory approvals."

Financial terms of the collaboration between CureVac and Bayer have not yet been disclosed. Under the current terms of the agreement, CureVac will retain the Marketing Authorization Holder title for CVnCoV. Bayer, however, will support the German firm with “country operations within the European Union (EU) and selected additional markets,” according to the companies’ joint statement. The agreement gives Bayer additional options to become the Marketing Authorization Holder in markets outside of the EU.

Nurix Therapeutics and Sanofi Ink Deal to Develop Protein Degradation Treatments

Nurix announced today an expansion of its global strategic collaboration with Sanofi to further develop and commercialize a novel targeted protein degradation therapy pipeline. The expansion agreement provides Nurix with an additional payment of $22 million, which will be added onto the initially agreed-upon upfront payment of $55 million. In addition, Nurix will also be eligible to receive upwards of $2.5 billion, contingent upon successful completion of research, preclinical, clinical, regulatory and sales milestones.

“Our collaboration with Sanofi has been very productive and the expansion of this agreement reflects the progress we have made and our collective drive to develop and commercialize drugs to treat challenging diseases,” said Arthur T. Sands, M.D., Ph.D., chief executive officer of Nurix, in a statement. “We look forward to a busy new year as we expand our collaboration on these exciting new programs with Sanofi and we continue to advance four of our wholly-owned programs into clinical trials.”

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