Chiesi offers Affibody breath of fresh air in respiratory disease deal worth up to $637M

Chiesi Farmaceutici is offering up to $637 million in biobucks to Affibody as part of a collaboration to develop new inhaled treatments for respiratory diseases. 

Italy-based biopharma Chiesi will pay for all discovery, development and potential commercialization tied to the deal, while Swedish biotech Affibody will use its molecule platform tech to develop programs against undisclosed respiratory disease targets. Under the terms of the agreement, Affibody could make up to $214 million biobucks—plus royalties—for the first program alone, while retaining the option to co-promote any products in the Nordic region of Europe.

Chiesi also holds the option to expand the collaboration to encompass a further two programs, which would pump that biobuck total to as high as $637 million.

Affibody has built a pipeline of bi- and multi-specific drugs based around its molecule platform, which boasts a library of more than 10 billion antibody mimetics. Preclinical models have demonstrated that the small size of the molecules combined with their robustness could allow for broad distribution and sustained exposure in the lung, the company said in the joint release.

Chiesi, which is focused on respiratory health, rare diseases and specialty care, already has a portfolio of FDA-approved inhaled drugs such as cystic fibrosis treatment Bronchitol and Bethkis, which is marketed for patients with cystic fibrosis who have a bacterial infection.

Chiesi's Head of Global R&D Thomas Eichholtz said the Affibody partnership adds an important new modality to its R&D portfolio that “has particularly interesting properties for inhalation.” The Parma, Italy-based company expects to develop new treatments for people with unmet medical needs based on the collaboration, Eichholtz added in the release.