Genmab Leans into Hot ADC Space with $1.8B ProfoundBio Acquisition

M&A deal_iStock, AmnajKhetsamtip

Pictured: Businessmen shaking hands after closing a deal/iStock, AmnajKhetsamtip

Genmab on Wednesday announced that it will acquire the privately owned biotech ProfoundBio for $1.8 billion in cash. The deal is meant to help the Danish pharma deepen its cancer pipeline with next-generation antibody-drug conjugate therapies.

The acquisition will give Genmab access to ProfoundBio’s portfolio of antibody-drug conjugates (ADC), three of which are in clinical studies.

The transaction—which has been greenlit by the boards of directors of both companies—is expected to close in the first half of this year, contingent on various regulatory and anti-trust clearances, as well as other customary closing conditions.

“We believe that ProfoundBio’s ADC candidates, proprietary technology platforms and talented team will be a great addition to Genmab,” CEO Jan van de Winkel said in a statement, adding that the acquisition will allow the combined entities to “accelerate the development of innovative, differentiated antibody therapies for cancer patients.”

 ProfoundBio’s most mature candidate is rinatabart sesutecan (Rina-S), a potentially best-in-class ADC that works by targeting folate receptor alpha (FRα), which is commonly overexpressed in several solid tumors, according to the biotech’s website. Rina-S carries the topoisomerase I inhibitor exatecan as its toxic payload.

Rina-S is currently in Phase II of a Phase I/II clinical trial designed to assess its therapeutic potential against ovarian cancer and other FRα-expressing cancers. In January 2024, ProfoundBio announced that Rina-S had won the FDA’s Fast Track designation for FRα-expressing high-grade serous or endometrioid platinum-resistant ovarian cancer.

According to Genmab’s Wednesday announcement, Rina-S will help the pharma “deepen its presence” in the gynecologic cancer area and “establish a firm foundation” in the solid tumor space. Genmab plans to “broaden the development” of Rina-S in ovarian cancer and other solid tumors positive for FRα.

Genmab will also gain access to ProfoundBio’s other pipeline assets including a CD70-targeting PRO1106, being developed for renal cell carcinoma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma and nasopharyngeal cancer, as well as the PTK7-directed PRO1107, which is being assessed for solid tumors.

The acquisition is part of an industry-wide trend that, according to a February 2024 report from market intelligence firm Evaluate, is set to continue through 2028. By then, the ADC market—which the report brands as the “hottest real estate” in oncology—could reach almost $30 billion in value.

Evaluate’s report named ProfoundBio as one of the ADC players to keep an eye on. A few weeks before the report was published, ProfoundBio raised $112 million in an oversubscribed Series B funding round.

The ADC space has seen a handful of high-ticket deals in recent months, including Merck’s potential $16.5 billion license for three of Daiichi Sankyo’s DXd-based ADCs and BMS’ $8.4 billion commitment for SystImmune’s bispecific antibody BL-B01D1.

Tristan Manalac is an independent science writer based in Metro Manila, Philippines. Reach out to him on LinkedIn or email him at tristan@tristanmanalac.com or tristan.manalac@biospace.com.

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