GSK Inks Potential $1.4 Billion Oncology Deal With Belgium-Based iTeos

GSK_Cristina Arias/Cover/Getty Images

Cristina Arias/Cover/Getty Images

Shares of iTeos Therapeutics skyrocketed more than 50% in premarket trading after the Belgium-based company announced it struck an agreement that included a $625 million upfront payment to co-develop and commercialize a cancer treatment with pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline.

The companies will develop the Phase II asset EOS-448, an anti-TIGIT IgG1 monoclonal antibody. EOS-448 is designed to bind to TIGIT and block its interaction with certain ligands, including CD155 and CD112. Additionally, it can bind to CD226 and activate an immune response of T cells and Natural Killer cells. IgG1 also binds to FcγR in order to trigger a pro-inflammatory cytokine release, as well as the activation of antigen presenting cells and depletion of TIGIT+ Tregs and exhausted T cells, the companies said in the announcement. 

Data from a Phase I study of EOS-448 presented at the American Association for Cancer Research earlier this year, the asset had a favorable safety profile and demonstrated early signs of clinical activity in advanced cancers. 

In that study, there was at least one confirmed partial response and nine reports of stable disease out of 20 evaluable patients, iTeos said. Even the lowest tested dose of EOS-448 was able to deplete TIGIT+ suppressive and exhausted cells, which provided evidence of engagement of FcγR. Researchers believed the evidence seen in the Phase I data demonstrated the potential of EOS-448 to activate multiple immune mechanisms. 

Hal Barron, chief scientific officer and president of research and development at GSK, said immuno-oncology plays a significant role in treating cancer patients. However, less than 30% of patients respond to treatment with the current leading immune checkpoint inhibitors.

“Based on the underlying science, we believe that combinations of a PD-1, TIGIT, CD96 and PVRIG inhibitor could become transformative medicines for many patients with cancer. We are excited to collaborate with the team at iTeos and together we can play a leading role in the next generation of immuno-oncology therapies,” Barron said in a statement. 

TGIT is part of the CD226 checkpoint axis, a keen area of interest for GSK. After partnering with iTeos, GSK is uniquely positioned with multiple antibodies that target all known CD226 checkpoints - TIGIT, CD96 and PVRIG. GSK said combined with its recently-approved checkpoint inhibitor Jemperli (dostarlimab), its TGIT portfolio will be assessed in multiple combinations for different kinds of cancer. GSK and iTeos plan to start combination studies of EOS-448 with Jemperli in 2022.

Under the terms of the deal, iTeos will receive an upfront payment of $625 million and will be eligible to receive up to an additional $1.45 billion in milestone payments, should the EOS-448 program achieve certain development and commercial milestones.

iTeos Chief Executive Officer Michel Detheux said his company opted to co-develop EOS-448 with GSK due to its commercial capabilities and ongoing work in immuno-oncology.

“Inspired by the multifaceted mechanism of action of EOS-448 and promising early results in clinical trials, this collaboration allows us to accelerate and expand the clinical development of EOS-448. We are more confident than ever in our ability to succeed,” Detheux said in a statement. 

“This collaboration validates our science and provides a catalyst for the future of iTeos. The collaboration with GSK will allow our team to continue to develop next generation immunotherapies starting with inupadenant, our highly differentiated clinical-stage A2A adenosine receptor antagonist, and to drive scientific innovation with our expertise in tumor immunology to build our pipeline.”

Back to news