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Celgene Revamps Pact With Sutro Biopharma

Written by: | | Dated: Thursday, August 10th, 2017


Celgene Revamps Pact With Bay Area Biotech, No Acquisition Coming


August 10, 2017
By Mark Terry, Breaking News Staff


Sutro Biopharma, based in South San Francisco, and Celgene (CELG), located in Cranbury, NJ, have modified their 2014 immuno-oncology collaboration. The modifications revolve around four programs that are currently in preclinical development, including an antibody drug conjugate (ADC) program that targets B-cell maturation antigen (BCMA).

In the original agreement in 2014, which followed a December 2012 deal, the two companies utilized Sutro’s cell-free biologics development platforms, Xpress CF and Xpress CF+ to “interrogate the immuno-oncology space,” which included established targets like PD-1 and PD-L1. Sutro in 2014 received upfront payments totaling $95 million as well as an equity investment.

According to John Carroll, writing for Endpoints News, since 2014, Sutro has explored at least 15 targets and grown from 90 staffers to 130.

Carroll writes, “Now, they’re retooling their pact. Celgene is adding an option to acquire worldwide rights on a second program, one of four that the South San Francisco-based biotech will spotlight in the revised collaboration. Only one of those—an antibody drug conjugate targeting B-Cell maturation antigen (BCMA)—is in public view as the partners stay under cover on the rest.”

“We are excited about that target for myeloma,” Bill Newell, Sutro’s chief executive officer, told Carroll. “Three different modalities gives them different patients for whom different therapies might be appropriate. CAR-T is exciting, but not all patients will be eligible for CAR-T. They want to focus on different modalities.”

As part of the 2014 deal, Celgene had global rights to the first collaboration program to hit IND status. Under the modified deal, Celgene can buy worldwide rights to a second collaboration project that reaches IND status. Sutro will hold U.S. development and commercialization rights, and Celgene will hold rights outside the U.S., to the next two programs that reach IND status out of the four programs.

No financial details on the modifications were disclosed.

Also, Sutro gave Celgene the right to buy shares of Sutro stock in a future private financing as well as a right to buy shares in a private placement at the same time as an initial public offering by Sutro. Celgene also had an option to buy Sutro, but that has ended, as well as former restrictions against Sutro inking collaborations or accessing public financial markets.

“Our goal is to continue to build momentum for promising antibody drug conjugates and bispecific antibodies for immuno-oncology therapeutics developed with Sutro’s cell-free protein synthesis platform,” Newell said in a statement. “With this revised agreement, Celgene continues to support Sutro’s development, while we can move rapidly into development of multiple product candidates and evaluate new opportunities for partnerships and funding.”

Sutro’s statement, emphasized by Carroll, is that the company might entertain an initial public offering with Celgene as a partner.

Alex Lash, writing for Xconomy, noted, “When asked why they reworked the deal, Newell cited several factors, including new leadership at Celgene and a decision to prioritize a program that hits a protein called BCMA, which is present on multiple myeloma cells. Of the four programs Celgene can now license from Sutro, it is the only one with a disclosed target. Multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer, is Celgene’s greatest focus and accounted for the bulk of its $11.2 billion in sales last year.”

Last year Celgene acquired EngMab AG for $600 million, which had an experimental antibody compound that targets BCMA. It also has a deal with Bluebird Bio (BLUE) to develop a cell therapy for multiple myeloma that works by targeting BMCA.



BioSpace source:

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