Daiichi does I/O research deal with Portland upstart

Portland skyline

Daiichi Sankyo has partnered with startup AgonOx to develop novel drugs against an undisclosed immuno-oncology target. The pair is slated to work together on the preclinical development, and then after that the Japanese biopharma has the option to license the program for worldwide development and commercialization.

This is the Portland, OR-based company’s second major biopharma deal. It has another that dates back to 2011 with AstraZeneca’s ($AZN) MedImmune arm. That deal is to develop a tumor-specific T-cell immunity stimulator based on AgonOx’s OX40 agonist programs.

In July, the British biopharma said that of its trio of OX40 assets in preclinical development it would advance one, monoclonal antibody MEDI5062. It had previously advanced OX40 agonist MEDI6383 in Phase I testing on its own as well as in combination with its anti-PD-L1 candidate durvalumab, but both were dropped.

AgonOx offers the Japanese biopharma expertise in validating the expression and function of immuno-oncology targets. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

The effort is part of the Daiichi Sankyo Cancer Enterprise, the company’s oncology pipeline that’s focused on more than 20 small molecule and monoclonal antibodies to treat both solid and hematological cancers.

"While this collaboration will help strengthen our immuno-oncology capabilities, it also aligns with our overall mission of discovering and delivering science that can change the standard of care for patients with cancer,” said Dr. Antoine Yver, VP and Global Head of Oncology R&D at Daiichi Sankyo, in a statement.