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AbbVie and Scripps Research form drug development alliance

AbbVie has teamed up with non-profit biomedical research and drug discovery organisation Scripps Research to create cancer, immunology, neurology and fibrosis treatments, among others.

The pharmaceutical company first partnered with Scripps Research’s drug discovery unit Calibr in June last year for the development of T-cell therapies to treat cancer.

Calibr designed a cell therapy programme that uses a modular ‘switchable’ CAR-T cell to regulate the CAR-T cell activation and antigen specificity.

AbbVie made an upfront license fee payment to Calibr and gained access to the CAR-T platform for up to four years. The company also received the option to develop additional cell therapies and licence Calibr’s existing cell therapy programmes targeting haematological and solid cancers.

Scripps Research and Calibr CEO Peter Schultz said: “Based on our strong switchable CAR-T alliance launched in 2018, we feel the expanded relationship with AbbVie represents a robust path forward for some of our programmes, complementing a diverse ecosystem of innovation we’ve created over the past several years at Scripps to advance life-changing therapies.”

As part of the latest partnership, Scripps Research will provide a select number of preclinical programmes each year for AbbVie to consider inclusion in the alliance.

The partners will also advance CD3 bispecifics against cancer targets selected by AbbVie.

Scripps Research will be responsible for pre-clinical research and development activities and, in some cases, Phase I clinical trials, while AbbVie has an exclusive option for further development and commercialisation.

If AbbVie decides to exercise the option to a given programme, the company will make additional payments to Scripps Research, including option exercise fees, development and commercial milestones and royalties.

Upon reaching a milestone, AbbVie will make undisclosed upfront and near-term milestone payments.

Sanofi and Regeneron to simplify antibody partnership

Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals have said the companies may transform their antibody partnership, which involves Kevzara (sarilumab) and Praluent (alirocumab) drugs, into a royalty-based agreement.

The restructured alliance will potentially provide Sanofi with exclusive rights to Kevzara worldwide and exclusive rights to Praluent in markets outside of the US.

Merck to acquire ArQule in $2.7bn deal

Novartis and Forendo enter into tissue hormone-focused licensing collaboration

Finland-based Forendo Pharma has announced it has signed a licensing and collaboration agreement with Novartis. The research collaboration will focus on discovering and developing HSD17B (17-beta-hydroxysteroid dehydregonase) inhibitors, which is a family of enzymes that regulates hormone action in specific tissues.

Sanofi agrees to pay $2.5bn for biotech firm Synthorx

Janssen to acquire bermekimab’s rights from XBiotech for $750m

Janssen Biotech has signed a definitive agreement to buy rights to XBiotech’s investigational monoclonal antibody, bermekimab, for a cash consideration of $750m. Bermekimab is designed to inhibit IL-1⍺ cytokine, known to cause chronic skin diseases-associated inflammation. It is being developed to treat atopic dermatitis and hidradenitis suppurativa.

Janssen expects the addition of the drug to boost its immuno-dermatology portfolio.

Baker Bros invests $225m for stake in Kodiak’s eye disease drug

Eye disease-focused Kodiak Sciences has entered into a funding agreement with Baker Bros Advisors, in which the investment firm will invest $225m into the company for royalty rights capped at 4.5% to its drug candidate KSI-301. Kodiak is developing anti-VEGF antibody biopolymer conjugate therapy KSI-301 for retinal vascular diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic eye diseases. In a recently completed Phase I study, the drug was safe and well-tolerated by participants.

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