J&J extends lifeline to Nanobiotix in potential $1.8B licensing deal

Johnson & Johnson

J&J extends lifeline to Nanobiotix in potential $1.8B licensing deal

Published: Jul 10, 2023

By Lisa Munger


Johnson & Johnson has capitalized on the shaky financial ground at French biotech Nanobiotix by licensing its lead product, NBTXR3, intended to enhance the efficacy of radiotherapy in various tumor types including head and neck cancer, under an agreement announced Monday. 

J&J will use the licensing arrangement to initiate a Phase II program in advanced lung cancer, potentially expanding to other indications, according to the news release. The deal brings an upfront payment of $30 million for the NBTXR3 radioenhancer to Nanobiotix, including milestone payments of up to $1.8 billion and an opportunity for J&J to acquire an equity stake in the company worth up to $30 million.

NBTXR3 is a cancer candidate administered via direct injection into tumors. The treatment enhances the effectiveness of radiation by increasing cancer cells’ destruction. Nanobiotix has focused on advancing NBTXR3, with a current Phase III trial named NANORAY-312 concentrating on head and neck cancers. The strategy is supported by studies suggesting that the enhanced cancer-killing capabilities NBTXR3 prime the immune system to target tumor cells.

Nanobiotix began the Phase III trial using NBTXR3 in combination with radiation to treat cisplatin-ineligible patients with head and neck cancer in 2021. Though the early results appeared promising, the company struggled to maintain adequate cash on hand.

Before Monday’s agreement with J&J, Nanobiotix had attempted strategic cost-saving measures to improve its financial position, including refocusing research activities to develop NBTXR3.

The collaboration with J&J comes at a welcome time for Nanobiotix, which went public in December 2020, raising roughly $100 million after debuting at $13.50 per share. The company’s stock price has subsequently declined to around $5 per share as of the close of trading on Friday. The agreement announcement with J&J prompted a 50% increase in the share price during early trading Monday.

The NBTXR3 deal with J&J covers all global markets except for China and other countries in Asia. Nanobiotix has already signed a separate agreement with LianBio for those regions.

In May 2022, with its cash reserves dwindling to $74 million, the biotech implemented measures to save up to approximately $16 million a year, according to multiple outlets.

At the time, analysts predicted Nanobiotix would run out of cash before it could release interim results of its NANORAY-312 Phase III trial, putting the company in a tight spot financially.

With the commencement of the J&J license agreement, Nanobiotix anticipates extending its cash runway until the first quarter of 2024, according to the company.

Source: BioSpace