The deals last month revolved around breakthrough cancer research and drug discovery, and new biopharmaceutical therapies for the disease. There were some exits too, as the female viagra (the controversial pink pill — Addyi— known for its harmful side-effects) got sold back to its original owners — Sprout Pharmaceuticals — and Cardinal Health exited China by selling its business to Shanghai Pharmaceuticals.We hope our roundup of deals announced in November 2017 provides you with an insight into the breakthrough technologies and business trends of tomorrow.
Bayer bets big on oncology; in deals with Loxo Oncology and Japan’s PeptiDream
In November, Bayer announced a global collaboration with Loxo Oncology, Inc., a company focused on the development of highly selective medicines for patients with genetically defined cancers. Bayer will assist in the development and commercialization of Loxo’s lead drug candidates — larotrectinib and LOXO-195.Under the terms of the agreement, Loxo will receive a US$ 400 million upfront payment and is eligible for US$ 450 million in milestone payments upon larotrectinib achieving regulatory approvals and initial commercial sales in certain major markets. An additional US$ 200 million in milestone payments will be paid by Bayer if larotrectinib’s follow-up drug, LOXO-195, obtains regulatory approvals and gets commercialized. The deal also has clauses where Bayer will pay Loxo Oncology milestone payments which can total another US$ 500 million. Larotrectinib is a potent, oral and selective investigational new drug in clinical development for the treatment of patients with cancers that harbor abnormalities involving the tropomyosin receptor kinases (TRKs), also known as TRK fusion cancers.Protein coding genes — or neurotrophic tyrosine receptor kinase (NTRK) 1 to 3 — contained within the DNA of a cell provide instructions for synthesizing proteins, the blueprint for cellular communication. The NTRK1-3 genes encode for the TRK family of receptor proteins that sit on the surface of cells. The TRK receptors provide instructions to cells. They are found primarily in neurons and help regulate how neurons function in the setting of pain, cognition, movement, memory, and mood.Growing research suggests that the NTRK genes, which encode for TRKs, can become abnormally fused to other genes, resulting in growth signals that can lead to cancer in many sites of the body. As a result, research during the last several years has generated interest in TRKs as a potential target for cancer therapeutics.
Bayer signs research agreement with PeptiDream: At almost the same time as Bayer announced the Loxo deal, the company also signed a major research agreement with Japan’s PeptiDream. While the details of the payments involved were not announced, the overall deal could be worth as much as US$ 1.11 billion (¥124.5 billion) in milestone bonuses, as well as royalties on sales.The deal requires the Japanese biotech to use its Peptide Discovery Platform System (PDPS) to find macrocyclic/constrained peptides against multiple targets “of interest selected by Bayer,” as well as to “optimize hit peptides into therapeutic peptides or small molecule products.”Peptides are natural biological or artificially manufactured short chains of amino acid monomers linked by peptide bonds. Therapeutic drugs for cancer and immune diseases are generally very expensive and often cause side effects. Use of non-standard peptides have been attracting considerable attention as a new approach to develop drugs with less side effects. PeptiDream’s PDPS enables humans to artificially create millions of different kinds of non-standard peptides and then narrow these peptides down to candidates for new drugs in short time.Over the past seven years, PeptiDream has established discovery collaborations with 17 of the leading pharmaceutical companies in the world.
Canada’s ZymeWorks in licensing agreement with Janssen Biotech
Another company that has established multiple strategic partnerships with global biopharmaceutical companies is Canada’s ZymeWorks.In November, it announced a licensing agreement with Janssen Biotech, one of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson.Under the terms of the licensing agreement, Zymeworks will provide Janssen with a worldwide, royalty-bearing license to research, develop, and commercialize up to six bispecific antibodies directed to Janssen therapeutic targets using Zymeworks’ Azymetric™ and EFECT™ platforms. Under this agreement, ZymeWorks will receive an upfront payment of US$ 50 million and become eligible to potentially receive up to US$ 282 million in development payments and up to US$ 1.12 billion in commercial milestone payments.