Agios scores $130M upfront from ambitious Celgene pact

Celgene is cozying up to 2009 Fierce 15 winner Agios Pharmaceuticals with an ambitious licensing deal that includes $120 million in milestones for each successful new drug program that springs off of Agios' platform for cancer metabolism along with a hefty $130 million upfront--an eye-popping figure for a collaboration that is getting started at the preclinical stage. The upfront fee includes an equity investment.

Celgene gains an option to commercialize any of the drugs that roll off the cancer metabolism platform and makes it through Phase I. The biotech will pick up development costs at that point and provide royalties on any approved product. Agios retains co-promotion rights in the U.S.

Agios is targeting metabolic enzymes that are unique to rapidly proliferating cancer cells, believing its technology can "starve" the cancer.

"Agios' approach is unique and groundbreaking. We look for early opportunities in the IDH1 and PKM2 programs and see exceptional value in new targets Agios is uniquely positioned to prosecute," said Thomas Daniel, M.D., president of research for Celgene. "We believe the strategic alliance with Agios can expand our deep and diverse pipeline of innovative programs focused on changing treatment paradigms in serious and debilitating diseases."

- check out Agios' release for more info