A pair of partnerships
TORONTO & CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—Celgene Corp. is continuing a spate of deal announcements with two more collaborations announced this week. (Check out previous coverage of Celgene's collaboration with AstraZeneca and its acquisition of Quanticel.) The first deal consists of an exclusive, strategic collaboration with privately held Northern Biologics Inc., a biotechnology company developing a portfolio of antibody-based therapeutics for oncology and fibrosis, under which Northern Biologics will advance its work in developing antibodies in oncology and fibrosis from preclinical discovery through human clinical trials. Celgene will have options to in-license drug candidates that result, as well as a right to acquire Northern Biologics once the collaboration is concluded. Per the terms of the agreement, Celgene has paid Northern Biologics $30 million up front.
“Celgene’s financial and scientific contributions will enable us to rapidly progress our therapeutic antibodies to the clinic,” Dr. Stefan Larson, CEO at Northern Biologics, noted in a press release. "This deal reflects strong alignment among Celgene, Versant, the Northern Biologics founders, and management team regarding the advantages of collaborating to advance our innovative portfolio.”
The same day, a joint worldwide development and profit share collaboration was announced between Celgene and Agios Pharmaceuticals Inc. The collaboration centers on AG- 881, a small molecule from Agios that has demonstrated the ability in preclinical studies to penetrate the blood-brain barrier and inhibit isocitrate dehydrogenase-1 (IDH1) and IDH2 mutant cancer models. The companies intend to begin clinical development of the compound in the second quarter of the year. Per the terms of the agreement, Celgene will make an initial payment to Agios of $10 million in Q2 2015, with the potential for regulatory milestone payments of up to $70 million. The partners will jointly collaborate on AG-881's worldwide development program, sharing development costs and profits 50/50. Agios will lead U.S. commercialization, with both companies sharing in field-based commercial activities, and Celgene will be taking point on ex-U.S. commercialization, with Agios providing one-third of field-based commercial activities in the major EU markets.
This deal builds on a multiyear existing relationship for Celgene and Agios. The companies inked a global strategic collaboration in April 2010 to develop IDH mutant inhibitors, and so far, three potential candidates have emerged: AG-221, an IDH2 mutant inhibitor; AG-120, an IDH1 mutant inhibitor; and AG-881, a pan-IDH mutant inhibitor.
"The addition of our third IDH mutant inhibitor to our growing pipeline is an exciting milestone for Agios and underscores our goals to lead the scientific understanding of cancer metabolism and help as many patients as possible with an IDH mutant positive cancer," Dr. David Schenkein, CEO of Agios, commented on the deal. "AG-221 and AG-120 remain our lead medicines in clinical development and are advancing rapidly. We believe the addition of AG-881, given its unique profile, provides added flexibility to our portfolio of IDH inhibitors. Based on our preclinical findings, it has the potential to support our ongoing development effort to provide treatment options to patients with glioma, and it represents a possible second-generation molecule for both AG-221 and AG-120 in IDH mutant tumors. We look forward to generating data for AG-881 to inform our future development plans."