China's Jemincare nabs $650M biobucks pact with Roche's Genentech for prostate cancer hopeful

After penning a deal with Orion back in May, Jemincare is back at the licensing deal table, inking a development and sales deal with Roche’s Genentech unit that is on the lookout for a new prostate cancer drug after the recent flop of its phase 3 asset ipatasertib.

The pact, worth $60 million with an additional $590 million in biobucks also thrown into the mix, sees Genentech buy Jemincare’s androgen receptor degrader JMKX002992.

The Swiss major grabs all global rights for the therapy, which is being developed for prostate cancer, and will now head up trial work.

That $590 million in biobucks is based on the drug hitting “certain development, regulatory and sales-based milestone targets,” Genentech said in press release, though Jemincare is also in line for tiered royalties on net sales should the drug get to market.

The idea is for JMKX002992 to treat patients with prostate cancer who have developed resistance to current therapies, a common occurrence in many cancers, where initial treatments are no longer able to keep the disease at bay. The companies did not say what clinical stage the drug is currently in, though most of Jemincare’s pipeline is early stage.

Prostate cancer is also potentially a major market for the drug, should Genentech manage to get through all the clinical and regulatory hurdles ahead of it, with prostate cancer being one of the biggest cancers to affect older men, and drugs treating it, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Zytiga, making blockbuster sales every year.

Roche, one of the world’s premier oncology companies, currently has no drugs marketed to treat prostate cancer, but that’s not for a lack of trying.

The pharma had been working on a late-stage effort in ipatasertib, which worked by inhibiting the PI3K/AKT signaling pathway, but threw this out of the pipeline last year after it flopped in a key test. Roche will hope to have better luck with JMKX002992.

“Certain forms of prostate cancer can be particularly difficult to treat. Jemincare's novel oral androgen receptor degrader will complement our efforts to develop new treatment options for patients with advanced prostate cancer,” said James Sabry, global head of Roche pharma partnering, in a press release.

This is the second licensing pact the Chinese-based pharma company has signed this summer. Back in May, Finland’s Orion penned a deal with Jemincare worth 15 million euros ($15.9 million) upfront for the rights to develop and sell the preclinical, non-opioid pain therapy JMKX000623 outside greater China.