Celldex Takes Out Kolltan Pharma in $235 Million Deal

Published: Nov 02, 2016

Celldex Takes Out Kolltan Pharma in $235 Million Deal November 2, 2016
By Alex Keown, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

HAMPTON, N.J. – Celldex Therapeutics, Inc. snapped up privately held Kolltan Pharmaceuticals, Inc. in a $235 million deal that is expected to expand its oncology pipeline with potential drugs that can be combined with its existing therapies. The deal is an attempt by Celldex to bounce back following the March failure of the company’s cancer vaccine Rintega. The company ultimately terminated its research on Rintega, which had at one time earned Breakthrough Therapy Designation by the FDA for treatment of glioblastoma.

Celldex said Kolltan has reported clinical and preclinical data that its drug candidates can help overcome tumor resistance mechanisms associated with current tyrosine kinase inhibitors and seen in patients who have failed other cancer therapies. As a result, Celldex said it believes Kolltan’s drugs can be developed independently and in combination with Celldex’s existing product candidates.

“The acquisition of Kolltan provides Celldex with a truly unique platform of antibodies targeting receptor tyrosine kinases which we believe are highly compatible with our pipeline. We believe this acquisition complements our leadership position in immuno-oncology and enhances our ability to develop targeted therapeutic regimens to dramatically improve patient outcomes,” Anthony Marucci, president and chief executive officer of Celldex Therapeutics, said in a statement.

Gerald McMahon, CEO of Kolltan Pharmaceuticals, said in a statement that Celldex is “uniquely positioned to advance our antibody portfolio targeting RTKs to improve outcomes for patients and create optimal value for our shareholders.”

Kolltan’s portfolio includes three drugs that Celldex believes have potential. The drugs include the Phase I drug KTN0158, a humanized monoclonal antibody targeting refractory gastrointestinal stromal tumors. KTN0158 prevents KIT activation by blocking receptor dimerization. This mechanism may be effective even in tumors harboring the most common resistant mutations to Novartis ’ Gleevec and is unlikely to drive resistance, Celldex said.

Another experimental drug that Celldex noted is the Phase Ib therapy KTN3379, a human monoclonal antibody designed to block the activity of ErbB3 (HER3). KTN3379 also has potential to work well in combination with other targeted and cytotoxic therapies to directly kill tumor cells, Celldex said in a statement. Celldex has a promising treatment for triple negative breast cancer. Glembatumumab vedotin is a protein that binds to gpNMB, a protein found on the surface of tumors.

The third piece of the pipeline is a multi-faceted TAM program—a broad antibody discovery effort underway to generate antibodies that modulate the TAM family of RTKs, comprised of Tyro3, AXL and MerTK, which are expressed on tumor-infiltrating macrophages, dendritic cells and some tumors.

Under terms of the deal, Celldex will acquire Kolltan in a stock-for-stock transaction, including an upfront stock payment of $62.5 million. Kolltan shareholders are eligible to receive additional payments of up to $172.5 million upon the completion of specific development, regulatory and commercial milestones.

Shares of Celldex are up more than 1 percent this morning, trading at $3.16 as of 11:20 a.m.

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