AbbVie ties the knot with Infinity in $805M blood cancer collaboration

Adelene Perkins, chair, president and chief executive officer at Infinity

AbbVie ($ABBV) has agreed to hand over $275 million upfront to Infinity Pharmaceuticals ($INFI) in exchange for rights to develop and commercialize duvelisib, its oral PI3k-delta/gamma inhibitor for blood cancers. And the blockbuster-size deal for Infinity's lead program comes with $530 million in potential milestones.

Most of that milestone money--$405 million--will be paid out for a successful development program and regulatory approval of duvelisib (IPI-145), the partners say. And if they can get the drug all the way through to an approval, they plan to share the U.S. market and profits with Infinity grabbing double-digit royalties on sales outside the U.S.

This new deal comes just days after Infinity struck a separate agreement to buy out Millennium's royalty rights for the drug. The Cambridge, MA-based Infinity paid Millennium, a subsidiary of Takeda, $5 million for an option to terminate their royalty deal for a one-time payment of $52.5 million. Infinity is still on the hook for $455 million in milestones. That's the second time the two companies have amended their relationship, which dates back to 2011, when Takeda bought out Intellikine, which had earlier licensed out its PI3k portfolio to Infinity.

Duvelisib represents Infinity's sole clinical-stage asset. It's in Phase II for indolent non-Hodgkin lymphoma and is in a Phase III trial in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. And another Phase III combo study with rituxan is slated to get underway later this year. Infinity was forced to restructure in the summer of 2012 after the failure of its then lead program for saridegib, circling its wagons around IPI-145 and retaspimycin hydrochloride--and then the Hsp90 inhibitor was scrapped last fall after failing a mid-stage study for lung cancer.

Infinity's spotty record on drug development hasn't helped the company counter skepticism about its prospects with duvelisib. PI3k inhibition is a hot target in biotech, with Gilead's ($GILD) first-in-class Zydelig (idelalisib) battling Johnson & Johnson's ($JNJ) Imbruvica (a BTK inhibitor) in the blood cancer field. Today's deal, though, will likely help to boost Infinity's standing and ease some of those doubts.

"This collaboration is an important step toward fulfilling Infinity's objective of bringing better treatments to patients and further advances our goal of building a sustainable, fully integrated biotechnology company," said Adelene Perkins, chair, president and chief executive officer at Infinity, in a statement.

- here's the release

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