Genmab agrees a deal with Janssen to develop a next-generation mAb product in oncology, which looks to build on the commercial success of the companies’ partnership on Darzalex.
The two companies will collaborate on the development of HexaBody-CD38 for Darzalex (daratumumab)-resistant patients.
The drug candidate has undergone pre-clinical trials, which were deemed sufficiently promising for Janssen to seek an exclusive collaboration partnership worth a potential $275m (€243m). In addition, should the product reach the market, Genmab will receive 20% royalties on sales.
As part of the deal, Genmab will fund all R&D activities until the completion of clinical proof of concept studies in multiple myeloma and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma.
Should the results prove enticing, Janssen can then pay a $150m option exercise fee to gain a worldwide license to develop, manufacture and commercialise the drug candidate.
Building on success
The HexaBody technology ‘enhances’ the assembly of antibody hexamers, clusters of six antibodies, which results in improvements to the immune effectors functions, such as complement-dependent cytotoxicity to target cells.
“Encouraging pre-clinical data suggest that HexaBody-CD38 could be superior to daratumumab for certain tumour cell types and may expand and extend the promise of CD38-targeted therapies for more patients with multiple myeloma, lymphoma, leukaemia, and potentially beyond,” said Jan van de Winkel, CEO of Genmab.
Darzalex became the first monoclonal antibody (mAb) to receive approval by the US Food and Drug Administration for multiple myeloma in 2015.
Since then, the drug has become a big seller for the two companies, with Janssen revealing in first quarter financials for the year that the product had brought in $629m in global sales.
In addition, the companies are working on a subcutaneous formulation of the drug, which is in development for relapsing multiple sclerosis.
For Janssen, the deal is one in a series of smaller, bolt-on deals that it has pursued since the beginning of the year to expand its portfolio, such as shift into gene editing through licensing deals with Locus Biosciences and MeiraGTx.
At the end of last month, Genmab announced an initial public offering (IPO) on the Nasdaq exchange for $500m and the company will remain listed on Nasdaq Copenhagen.