Deal Spree for AbbVie Continues with $500 Million Cancer Tie-Up with Bay Area's CytomX

Published: Apr 25, 2016

Deal Spree for AbbVie Continues with $500 Million Cancer Tie-Up with Bay Area's CytomX April 22, 2016
By Alex Keown, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

NORTH CHICAGO, Ill. – In its second deal in as many days, Chicago-based AbbVie entered into another collaborative drug development agreement bolstering its oncology pipeline. The latest deal, worth up to $500 million, was struck Thursday with CytomX Therapeutics, Inc. to co-develop Probody Drug Conjugates against CD71, also known as transferrin receptor 1 (TfR1).

Steve Davidsen, vice president of oncology drug discovery at AbbVie, said the Probody platform “provides a differentiated opportunity to combine with our strength in antibody drug conjugates, "We are encouraged by the promising preclinical data that CytomX has generated for their Probody drug conjugate programs to-date and look forward to working closely with their team. This collaboration will enable us to expand our innovative pipeline in antibody drug conjugates and leverage our strength in that area to previously unexplored targets,” Davidsen said in a statement.

CytomX’s Probody therapeutics are designed to take advantage of unique conditions in the tumor microenvironment to enhance the tumor-targeting features of an antibody and reduce drug activity in healthy tissues. Probody therapeutics bind selectively to tumors and avoid binding to healthy tissue, to minimize toxicity and potentially create safer, more effective therapies. CytomX has generated preclinical data that demonstrates that Probody drug conjugates can safely and effectively target tumor antigens, such as CD71, that are not addressable by conventional antibody-drug conjugates. CD71 is expressed in a number of solid and hematologic cancers and has attractive molecular properties for efficient delivery of cytotoxic payloads to tumor cells, CytomX said in a statement.

Sean McCarthy, president and chief executive officer of CytomX, called the collaborative agreement an “important step toward achieving CytomX's vision of transforming lives with safer, more effective therapies and allows us to further advance our broad pipeline of Probody therapeutics.”

Under terms of the co-development agreement, CytomX will lead preclinical and early-clinical development, with AbbVie taking over for mid- to late-stage development and possible commercialization. CytomX will receive an upfront payment of $30 million and is eligible to receive up to $470 million in development, regulatory and commercial milestones, pending the achievement of pre-determined outcomes, AbbVie said in its announcement. As part of the deal, AbbVie also has exclusive rights to develop and commercialize Probody drug conjugates against up to two additional, undisclosed targets. Should AbbVie ultimately pursue these targets, CytomX is eligible to receive additional milestone and royalty payments per target on any resulting products, the companies said jointly.

On Wednesday, AbbVie struck a deal with Belgium-based drugmaker argenx on a preclinical immuno-oncology drug targeting GARP, a protein believed to contribute to immuno-suppressive effects of T-cells. The drug, ARGX-115, is designed to selectively target tumor immune escape pathways in cancer patients.

Not only is AbbVie furthering its immunotherapy position with the argenx collaboration, but the company also struck a five-year agreement with the University of Chicago to improve the pace of discovery and advance medical research in oncology. Both organizations will initially work together to advance research in several areas of oncology, which include breast, lung, prostate, colorectal and hematological cancer, AbbVie announced this week.

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