Just a week ago, Swedish biotech BioInvent had to go back to the drawing board after it was forced to terminate a trial of its lead drug, multiple myeloma therapy BI-505. It was a disaster for the company and follows on from a series of R&D setbacks, but there has been, just a week later, reprieve in the form of Pfizer.
The Big Pharma announced today that it was setting up an I/O research collab, as well as a license agreement with the European biotech, which in return has issued new shares to Pfizer.
On the money side, Pfizer is making a $6 million equity investment in the new shares for BioInvent, as well as around $10 million in early payments, including an undisclosed upfront payment, and early research funding.
Under the deal, and assuming five antibodies are developed through to commercialization, BioInvent is in line for $500 million in biobucks, as well as double digit royalties related to any meds that go on sale through the collaboration.
For its part, Pfizer will have the right to develop and sell any antibodies generated to an undisclosed number of tumor-associated myeloid cell targets.
Details on exactly what the collab will be were thin, but BioInvent said in a statement that it would use its translational drug discovery approach (aka “F.I.R.S.T”) to seek out new oncology targets and therapeutic antibodies that can halt cancer growth either by reversing the immunosuppressive activity of tumor-associated myeloid cells, or by reducing the number of tumor-associated myeloid cells in the tumor.
Michael Oredsson, CEO of BioInvent, said in the statement: “We are very pleased to announce this discovery and development collaboration with Pfizer which will leverage our cancer antibody biology and immuno-oncology expertise. We are looking forward to working with Pfizer to deliver a number of first-in-class antibodies to potentially treat a range of cancer indications addressing unmet patient needs.”
He would be very pleased, as just a week ago, he had to kill off a trial for his leading program after the FDA told it to stop dosing patients in a midstage test of BI-505. The clinical hold was imposed after an adverse cardiopulmonary event was seen in a patient receiving the anti-ICAM1 antibody.
Shares in the company lost 12% of their value in the wake of the announcement, which itself came after a string of other pipeline setbacks in the last few years, including the abandonment of BI-505 as a treatment for smoldering multiple myeloma and solid tumors, and the failure of its BI-204 candidate for atherosclerosis and anticoagulant TB-402 in 2012.
The development dashed BioInvent's hopes of signing up a development partner for BI-505 and meant its focus shifted to other immuno-oncology candidates in its pipeline.
This includes its Oncurious-partnered TB-403, an anti-placental growth factor antibody—originally developed and dropped by Roche—which is currently in a phase 1/2 trial in rare pediatric cancers including medulloblastoma and neurosarcoma.
The company, which is on the Stockholm exchange, was up 25% this morning on the news, with a market cap of around $80 million.
This also dovetails with Pfizer's belated I/O approach, through its work with German Merck, as the pair eye a 2017 approval for their PD-L1 avelumab in a rare type of skin cancer.