Amgen piles $2B more into pharma's ADC rush in Synaffix pact

A day after buzzing Hummingbird Bioscience for an antibody-drug conjugate licensing pact, Synaffix is back with a substantially similar, yet bigger deal. The Amsterdam-headquartered biotech will work with Amgen in a pact valued at up to $2 billion.

The companies will also work on next-generation ADCs, specifically for one program upfront with an option to license four more down the line. Details were slim, besides Synaffix CEO Peter van de Sande generally noting cancer as the target area for the collaboration.

Synaffix could be up for $2 billion through the deal, which includes signature, program nomination and milestone payments plus royalties on future sales. Amgen will conduct research, development, manufacturing and commercialization of the resulting ADCs, while Synaffix will manufacture components related to its proprietary technologies.

The biotech will bring its technology suite to the collaboration, including antibody conjugation platforms GlycoConnect, HydraSpace and select toxSYN linker-payloads. These platforms are meant to design ADCs from any antibody with a goal of delivering medicines with enhanced efficacy and tolerability.

Amgen, meanwhile, brings the expertise in drug development to the table. The company has joined its peer pharma companies in diving headfirst into the emerging cancer-tackling ADC modality. Amgen signed a $1.25 billion biobucks deal with LegoChem Biosciences on Dec. 23, 2022, for up to five ADC options. Merck KGaA also entered the fray with Mersana Therapeutics in an $830 million pact in late December, while Merck & Co. put $9 billion on the line with Kelun.

This puts the total biobucks possible for these deals in the $13 billion range, which, of course, depends on whether any of the therapies make it through the clinic.

This will be Synaffix’s twelfth licensing agreement, including yesterday’s Hummingbird deal that could be worth up to $150 million. Another ADC deal was signed with Emergence for up to $360 million in September, while Genmab and MacroGenics got into the Synaffix orbit earlier in 2022.

To bring the deal full circle, Amgen also has a partnership with Hummingbird for several undisclosed targets.

Editor's Note: This story was edited at 12:36 p.m. ET on January 5, 2023, to correct Synaffix's headquarters location as Amsterdam.