Leukemia licensing deal could potentially cost Janssen more than $1.8bn

By Maggie Lynch

- Last updated on GMT

(Image: Getty/ilkercelik)
(Image: Getty/ilkercelik)

Related tags License Leukemia Chemotherapy Janssen Biotech companies

Janssen has entered a global licensing agreement with argenx to develop and commercialize a treatment for acute myeloid leukemia.

Cilag GmbH International, an affiliate of Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies, and argenx, a clinical-stage biotech, will collaborate on cusatuzumab (ARGX-110), an anti-CD70 simple antibody.

Cusatuzumab is currently in a Phase I/II combination study with Vidaza (azacitidine) for the treatment of newly diagnosed, elderly patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and high-risk myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), who are unsuitable for chemotherapy.

Janssen and argenx have agreed to a joint global clinical development plan to evaluate the drug in AML, MDS, and potential further indications.

Per the agreement, Janssen will pay argenx $300m (€264.5m) upfront, and Johnson& Johnson Innovation (JJDC) will purchase $200m of newly issued shares, representing 4.68% of argenx’s outstanding shares.

Argenx will potentially receive an additional $1.3bn in development, regulatory, and sales milestones. In addition, the company will be eligible to receive royalties.

Janssen will lead efforts in research and manufacturing; it will also be responsible for commercialization worldwide, regulatory filings and approvals. Argenx retains the option to participate in commercialization efforts in the US.

A spokesperson for Janssen told us that the company believes cusatuzumab may hold “important potential as a treatment for patients with AML and high-risk MDS in the future.” ​The spokesperson further explained that the company believes that cusatuzumab may be a promising therapeutic for other CD70-expressing malignancies.

The transactions are subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to close in the first quarter of 2019.

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