Top Biotech Licensing Deals of Q1 2023

Pictured: Two people signing contracts/Courtesy of

Pictured: Two people signing contracts/Courtesy of

There have already been several big biotech licensing deals in Q1. See inside for some of this quarter’s biggest licensing deals — from the surprising and pivotal to the lucrative and consequential.

Pictured: Two people signing contracts/Courtesy of Shutterstock

With mixed market projections regarding overall licensing in 2023, investors will be scrutinizing collaborative efforts more closely this year. Nonetheless, there have already been several big biotech licensing deals in Q1. Below is a sampling of some of this quarter’s biggest licensing deals ranging from the surprising and pivotal to the lucrative and consequential.

Moderna and CytomX

On January 6, 2023, Moderna signed a collaboration agreement with CytomX Therapeutics to expand its presence in the oncology sector. With the messenger RNA coronavirus vaccine its only product on the market, Moderna is seeking to diversify its portfolio. As part of the agreement, Moderna will pay $35 million upfront and a $5 million pre-paid research funding investment, and CytomX will receive up to $1.2 billion total if certain milestones are achieved. While CytomX will work on drug discovery and preclinical assessments, Moderna will focus more on clinical development and commercialization upon FDA approval.

Voyager Therapeutics and Neurocrine Biosciences

On January 9, 2023, Voyager Therapeutics and Neurocrine Biosciences announced a deal to use multiple gene therapies to treat neurological diseases. With Neurocrine agreeing to pay $175 million upfront, there is no doubt that the company sees potential in the use of this approach, in particular, GBA1 gene therapy. Neurocrine will receive rights to Voyager’s GBA1 gene therapy program, which is currently in preclinical studies for Parkinson’s disease. Three rare central nervous system agents are also included in the deal.

Kronos Bio and Genentech

On January 9, 2023, Roche’s Genentech offered $20 million upfront to bolster Kronos Bio’s prospects. Although the deal could reach $554 million within 24 months if Kronos meets milestone objectives, the company had a minor bump in the road when it discontinued a Phase III acute myeloid leukemia trial due to a lack of enrollment in November 2022. However, with a refocus on other products, Kronos expects to see early- to mid-stage clinical results later this year or early in 2024. Specifically, it is testing a product called KB-0742 in a Phase I/II trial for relapsed or refractory solid tumors or non-Hodgkin lymphoma, with results anticipated in the second half of 2023. Another drug, lanraplenib, is being assessed in combination with gilteritinib in a Phase Ib/II trial for FLT3-mutated acute myeloid leukemia, with results expected in Q4 2023 or Q1 2024.

Karuna Therapeutics and Goldfinch Bio

On February 2, 2023, Karuna Therapeutics acquired exclusive rights to Goldfinch Bio’s transient receptor potential canonical 4 and 5 (TRPC4/5) channel agents for the treatment of mood and anxiety disorders. Goldfinch Bio shut down due to lack of funding in January. With the deal worth $520 million, Karuna is seeking to advance GFB-887 toward approval.


With fallout from the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank leaving small-to-mid-cap biotech companies in uncertain times, working collaboratively to achieve FDA approval and marketing success becomes crucial. Although the federal government did provide financial assistance to limit the fallout from the bank collapse, given that there are hundreds of banks that also have a risk of failure, small-to-mid-cap biotech companies are seeking better reassurances to continuously fund clinical research. As Q2 2023 approaches, keep an eye out for more licensing deals and partnerships, despite the tough financial market.

Correction: This article has been updated to reflect that GFB-887 is no longer being tested in focal segmental glomerular sclerosis.

Jia Jie Chen writes analyses focusing on drug development in the biotech and pharma industries for BioSpace. He has a doctorate degree in pharmacy and experiences ranging from biotech equity research to business intelligence analysis. Follow him on LinkedIn.