Roivant and Sinovant Launch Cytovant in $1 Billion-Plus Deal With MediGene



Vivek Ramaswamy’s Roivant Sciences has launched yet another “vant” company, this time in China.

Partnering with Hong Kong-based Sinovant Sciences, which is one of Ramaswamy’s “vant” companies, Roivant and Sinovant are launching a company called Cytovant Sciences. Cytovant will work to develop diseases prevalent in Asian patients.

As part of the launch, Cytovant has inked a multi-program license and collaboration deal with MediGene AG, a company headquartered in Martinsried near Munich, Germany.

Cytovant acquired exclusive licenses from MediGene to develop, manufacture, and commercialize MediGene’s research-stage T-cell immunotherapy that targets NY-ESO-1 as well as a DC vaccine that targets WT-1 and PRAME, in Greater China, South Korea, and Japan. Cytovant and MediGene also signed a strategic collaboration and discovery deal for T-cell receptor (TCR) immunotherapies for two more targets.

MediGene will handle the generation and delivery of the TCR constructs using its TCR discovery and isolation platform. After the research period is over, Cytovant will take on responsibility for the development and commercialization of the TCR therapies in the relevant countries. The TCRs created by MediGene will be engineered specifically for Asian populations.

Under the terms of the Cytovant-MediGene deal, Cytovant will pay MediGene $10 million (U.S.) upfront in addition to various development, regulatory, and commercial milestones that could total over $1 billion (U.S.) for the four products across multiple indications.

MediGene will be eligible for royalty payments on net sales of the products in the relevant countries in the low double-digits. Cytovant will also reimburse MediGene’s R&D costs.

“T-cell receptors are the scouts of the immune system,” stated Dolores Schendel, MediGene’s chief executive officer and chief scientific officer. “They help T-cells recognize and destroy cancer cells. We use our sophisticated screening system to generate tailored TCR therapies for patient populations with specific genetic characteristics.”

She went on to say, “This partnership implements MediGene’s strategy to discovery TCRs with various HLA specificities in order to address different populations and markets. Cytovant, with its highly experienced management and scientific team was launched by Sinovant and Roivant to achieve excellence in cell therapies and we are proud to be part of this story of delivering various TCR projects as well as our DC vaccine for development in East Asia.”

As part of the new company, John Xu will join Cytovant and act as its president. Before joining Cytovant, Xu was president and chief scientific officer of Mab-Legend Biotech, based in Shanghai, China. Previously, Xu also was chief scientific officer of Shanghai Benemae Pharmaceutical Corporation and Head of the Biologics Group at GSK China. He received his bachelor’s degree in cell biology and genetics from Peking University and PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology at Harvard University.

In December 2018, Sinovant and its partner with Nabriva Therapeutics submitted two New Drug Applications (NDAs) to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the oral and IV formulations of lefamulin, an antibiotic for community-acquired bacterial pneumonia (CABP).

On March 19, Roivant’s company, Urovant, announced positive topline results from its Phase III EMPOWUR trial of vibregron in patients with overactive bladder. This will likely be the first of any of Roivant’s companies under its umbrella to file with the FDA.

And at the recent American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting, on April 2, MediGene presented a new preclinical method for evaluating the efficacy and toxicity of TCRs in co-cultures of healthy and tumor cells. The poster presented how lung fibroblasts could be grown together with lung carcinoma cells in culture, which allows for more realistic culture-based testing.



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