Compugen and MedImmune Strike Oncology Development Deal Worth up to $200 million


Israel-based drug maker Compugen Ltd. and pharma giant AstraZeneca have teamed up to develop bi-specific and multi-specific immuno-oncology antibody products.

Compugen and AstraZeneca subsidiary MedImmune struck an exclusive licensing agreement that could be worth up to $200 million for the Israeli company. Compugen will provide MedImmune the license to use a Compugen pipeline program to develop the bi-specific and multi-specific antibody products. Under terms of the deal, MedImmune has the right to create multiple products under this license. The AstraZeneca development company will be solely responsible for all research, development and commercial activities, according to the deal.

Antibodies occur naturally and bind specifically to target protein via two identical arms. Bi-specific antibodies have been genetically modified to bind to different proteins in separate arms by exchanging one arm with that of another antibody with a different target specificity, according to company data. Multi-specific antibodies are also engineered to bind to three or more target proteins simultaneously.

MedImmune provided Compugen with $10 million in upfront funding. The remaining $190 million will be paid based on development, regulatory and commercial milestones for the first product. If a product is approved for market Compugen would be eligible for tiered royalties. If additional products are developed, additional milestones and royalties would be due to Compugen, the companies said.

What targets MedImmune is going after with the Compugen program was not disclosed.

Anat Cohen-Dayag, president and chief executive officer of Compugen, said the funds from the MedImmune deal will allow the company to “monetize specific scientific advances” in its programs. In addition, the company said the funding will help to advance its lead programs into clinical trials.

Compugen’s lead immuno-oncology product candidate is COM701, a humanized hybridoma antibody. COM701 binds with high affinity to PVRIG, a novel B7/CD28-like immune checkpoint target candidate that was discovered by Compugen.

“We are committed to our strategy of selectively collaborating with biopharmaceutical companies for the development of first-in-class products against our diverse, computationally-derived portfolio of targets,” Cohen-Dayag said in a statement.

In March Compugen licensed the Selexis SUREtechnology Platform to generate high-performance research cell banks. Compugen said it will leverage the power of the Selexis SA platform to support its COM701 research. In March Compugen said it anticipates filing an investigational new drug (IND) application with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration by the end of the first quarter of 2018.

"This agreement with Compugen will support our abilities to generate novel immunotherapy targets which, coupled with MedImmune's expertise in antibody engineering, can advance our goal of delivering treatments to meaningfully improve the lives of cancer patients," Ronald Herbst, MedImmune’s vice president of oncology research & development said in a statement.

Shares of Compugen are falling this morning. The stock is down more than 5 percent as of 11:15 a.m.

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