After partnering with Big Pharmas, Incyte bags its own PD-1 drug in $795M deal

Incyte CEO Hervé Hoppenot

After signing up for combo studies with all the leaders in the checkpoint inhibitor race, Incyte ($INCY) has found a checkpoint program for itself.

Incyte has inked a global deal with China's Jiangsu Hengrui Medicine for an anti-PD-1 drug dubbed SHR-1210. In exchange for $25 million upfront and a heavily back ended $770 million package of milestones--including a $150 million bonus if the treatment can prove its superiority--Incyte gets all global rights outside of China and related territories.

A little more than a year ago Incyte swiftly lined up combination deals that matched its IDO1 inhibitor, epacadostat (INCB24360), with PD-1 and PD-L1 drugs from Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY), Merck ($MRK), Roche ($RHHBY) and AstraZeneca ($AZN). INCB24360 is an immunotherapy designed to amp up an immune system attack on cancer, while the checkpoint programs are designed to dismantle cancer cells' cloaking mechanism that prevents an assault from happening. Together, they could help change the standard of care in cancer, provided the theory can survive the clinical challenge. 

Incyte clearly believes that this approach has a lot of potential, and can now see if it can work with an in-house combination.

"The addition of this anti-PD-1 candidate to our early stage portfolio reinforces our commitment to cancer patients and further diversifies our clinical development programs," says Incyte CEO Hervé Hoppenot in a statement. "We continue to make excellent progress in the multiple clinical trials underway across our existing portfolio, including our strategic collaborations."

- here's the release