Celgene Dealmaking Continues With Two Pacts Worth $110 Million With Agios, Northern Biologics

Celgene  Dealmaking Continues With Two Pacts Worth $110 Million With Agios, Northern Biologics
April 29, 2015
By Alex Keown, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

CAMBRDIGE, Mass. – Celgene Corporation has struck two deals with other pharmaceutical companies with a combined value of $110 million to advance its oncology platform, continuing the cancer drugmaking company’s deal making trend to advance its oncology pipeline.

Today Celgene announced it entered into an $80 million agreement with Agios Pharmaceuticals to develop AG-881, a small molecule that has shown in preclinical studies to fully penetrate the blood brain barrier and inhibit isocitrate dehydrogenase-1 (IDH1) and IDH2 mutant cancer models. The companies said they plan to initiate clinical development of AG-881 in the second quarter of 2015. That will make the third mutant inhibitor discovered by Agios to enter into clinical development.

News of the agreement spurred an increase of about half-a-percent in Celgene’s stock this morning from the company’s open of $112.94 per share and an even sharper increase for Agios’ stock, up nearly 3 percent to a morning high of $101.49 per share from the opening price of $98.83 per share.

Agios and Celgene will jointly collaborate on the worldwide development program for AG-881, sharing equally development costs as well as profits, the company said in a statement. The two companies entered into a similar agreement in 2010 to develop Agios’ other mutant inhibitor AG-221 and AG-120. Under that deal Agios is eligible for up to $240 million in milestone payments.

Agios’ three investigational medicines aim to improve treatment for patients whose cancers carry these IDH mutations, including “difficult to treat acute myelogenous leukemia and glioma, a type of aggressive brain tumor with poor prognosis,” the company said.

In a statement David Schenkein, Agios’ chief executive officer, said the addition of the company’s third IDH mutant inhibitor, will increase options to treat glioma, a type of tumor that occurs in the brain and spinal cord. Gliomas, one of the most common types of brain tumors, can affect your brain function and be life-threatening depending on their location and rate of growth, according to the Mayo Clinic.

In addition to the Agios deal, Celgene also announced today it struck a $30 million agreement with one-year-old Canada-based Northern Biologics to advance that company’s work in oncology and fibrosis therapeutics. Under the agreement, Northern Biologics will advance its work in the development of therapeutic antibodies in oncology and fibrosis from preclinical discovery through human clinical trials. Celgene will have options to in-license drug candidates and will also have the right to acquire Northern Biologics upon conclusion of the collaboration. Agios would lead commercialization in the U.S. and Celgene would lead commercialization outside the country.

In a statement, Stefan Larson, Northern’s CEO, said Celgene’s scientific and financial contributions to the company’s developmental programs will help “to rapidly progress our therapeutic antibodies to the clinic.”

Earlier this month Celgene entered into a collaborative agreement with AstraZeneca PLC that will allow the U.S.-based drug firm to develop MEDI4736, AstraZeneca’s immunotherapy treatment for blood cancer. Under the deal, Celgene will be responsible for selling MEDI4736 in blood cancers and will pay AstraZeneca an initial royalty of 70 percent, which will decrease to approximately half of sales over a period of four years. Celgene will also be responsible for global commercialization of approved treatments. AstraZeneca will continue to manufacture and book all sales of MEDI4736 and will pay a royalty to Celgene on worldwide sales in hematological indications.

Celgene did 10 deals last year, shelling out an average of $222 million in upfront payments to its partners.

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