Xencor and Janssen Unite Again in Second Bispecific Antibodies Agreement


At the end of 2020, Xencor and Janssen Biotech entered a research collaboration and license agreement focused on discovering novel CD28 bispecific antibodies to treat prostate cancer. Nearly a year later, the companies are pairing up on their second bispecific antibodies agreement.

On Monday, Xencor and Janssen Biotech, one of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, announced their global collaboration and license agreement to advance plamotamab and XmAb® B-cell targeting bispecific antibodies that are designed to conditionally activate T cells through the CD28 co-stimulatory receptor.

The deal has a value of over one billion dollars, with highlights for Xencor including receiving a $100 million upfront payment, a $25 million equity investment, eligibility for plamotamab royalties and potential milestone payments worth up to $1.18 billion. The agreement is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year, pending closing conditions.

Plamotamab is an investigational tumor-targeted XmAb® bispecific antibody that is currently in a Phase I clinical trial to treat patients with CD20-expressing hematologic malignancies.

“We are delighted to collaborate with Janssen’s leading scientists to expand the scope of the plamotamab program, particularly as we explore opportunities to combine with novel B-cell targeted CD28 bispecific antibodies that can potentially selectively enhance T-cell cytotoxic activity,” said Bassil Dahiyat, Ph.D., president and chief executive officer at Xencor. “This collaboration complements our plans to initiate combination clinical trials of plamotamab with tafasitamab and lenalidomide, and it expands our strategy to develop multiple highly active chemotherapy-free regimens for B-cell cancers.”

As part of the agreement, Janssen will get worldwide exclusive development and commercialization rights to plamotamab, both as a monotherapy or in combination regimens.

Xencor also recently partnered with another big pharma player. Earlier this year, the California-based company teamed up with Bristol Myers Squibb to tackle COVID-19. The two companies entered a technology license agreement in which BMS has non-exclusive access to Xencor’s Xtend™ Fc technology to extend the half-life of a novel antibody combination therapy that is intended to neutralize the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

“By extending half-life, we improve upon a candidate’s product profile and potentially reduce costs – both of which are important features, particularly for an anti-viral therapy intended for pandemic use,” Dahiyat said at the time of announcement. “We are committed to partnering with industry and the academic community to support the development of potential treatments for COVID-19, as well as other areas of urgent unmet medical need.”

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