Deals, Deals, Deals: Astellas and Frequency, Orum, ImmunoCellular and Pyxis Oncology

person handing off burlap money bags to another

There have been quite a few small and mid-sized deals announced today. Let’s take a look at four of them.

Astellas and Frequency Ink Licensing Deal

Astellas Pharma and Frequency Therapeutics inked a license agreement to develop and commercialize Frequency’s FX-322 for the treatment of sensorineural hearing loss. Astellas will handle research and development out of the U.S. and Frequency will take on U.S. development and commercialization. Astellas is paying Frequency $80 million upfront with up to another $545 million in various milestones, as well as royalties on future sales in the licensed territory. FX-322 recently completed a Phase I/II clinical trial and was well-tolerated with no serious adverse events. Hearing improved in multiple patients receiving the drug.

“FX-322 is a program that focuses on the mechanism of regeneration,” stated Naoki Okamura, representative director corporate executive vice president, chief strategy officer, Astellas. “Astellas is committed to exploring all types of partnership opportunities to turn cutting-edge science and technological advances into value for patients. We look forward to further investigating the potential of FX-322 to improve hearing function in patients around the world.”

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Orum Therapeutics Raises $30 Million Series B

Orum Therapeutics closed an oversubscribed $30 million Series B financing round. New investors, IMM Investment, Smilegate Investment, KTB Network, and Stassets Investment joined existing investors InterVest and KB Investment/Solidus Investment. The funds will be used to expand Oromab, the company’s antibody platform technology. It will also be used to expand its R&D labs in Korea and Boston.

“A large number of important therapeutic targets are currently considered ‘undruggable,’ making drug discovery for these targets technically challenging,” stated Sung Joo Lee, founder and chief executive officer of Orum. “By intracellular delivery of antibodies, our platform redefines what undruggable means.”

ImmunoCellular Therapeutics Sells Almost All of its Preclinical and Clinical Assets

Los Angeles-based ImmunoCellular Therapeutics reported it had made a deal with a privately held biotechnology company to sell substantially all of its remaining clinical and pre-clinical assets, “including its preclinical and clinical programs, technology intellectual property and know-how.” The assets are made up of ICT-107, a Phase III-ready drug for glioblastoma, ICT-121, which recently completed Phase I for glioblastoma, and ICT-140, a Phase I/II-ready drug for ovarian cancer. Its preclinical assets also include its Stem-to-T-Cell research program. The aggregate purchase price was $1 million, split into two payments by the purchasing company, which was not identified. The first half was upfront and non-refundable. The second half is based on the outcome of upcoming talks between the purchasing company and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) over the ICT-107 asset.

Pyxis Oncology Launches with $22 Million Series A

Pyxis Oncology, which will focus on immuno-oncology, launched with a $22 million Series A round led by Leaps by Bayer, an investment unit of Bayer. It was joined by Agent Capital, Ipsen and Longwood Fund. The company was founded by Thomas Gajewski, professor of Medicine, Pathology and the Ben May Cancer Institute at the University of Chicago Medicine; Longwood Fund; and John Flavin, an experienced life sciences executive and entrepreneur.

“With our systematic approach for understanding the immunobiology of the tumor microenvironment, which is distinct from other inflammatory disease settings, we have uncovered multiple novel molecules that regulate immune responses against cancer,” Gajewski stated. “These molecules represent promising immuno-oncology targets, both for T-cell-inflamed tumors and also for non-T-cell-inflamed or ‘cold’ tumors, for which there is a large unmet need.”

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