Genentech rides up to 2nd target in Bicycle immuno-oncology collab

Roche’s Genentech unit called in an option to license a second immuno-oncology target from its collaboration with British biotech Bicycle Therapeutics.

Bicycle is built on technology that it originally used to attach toxins to innate immune activators, resulting in drugs designed to deliver payloads to cancer cells and trigger immune attacks localized within tumors. The biotech has since begun using the platform to create T-cell modulators that it thinks improve on the safety and efficacy of existing modalities while also being better suited to use in combinations.

The collaboration, which was signed back in February 2020, initially focused on two immuno-oncology targets picked by Genentech. The Roche unit had the option to nominate up to two more targets in return for a $10 million expansion fee for each extra program. It took up the first of these options in October 2021 and now has secured the second, triggering the other $10 million payment to Bicycle.

Under the original partnership, Bicycle will handle discovery and lead optimization for each program, with Genentech taking over after a drug candidate is selected. If Genentech, at its sole discretion, chooses to move a candidate into further preclinical development and claim an exclusive global license on it, the Roche subsidiary will pay up to $12 million in milestones per program.

“We are pleased both with the ongoing progress in our collaboration with the preeminent immuno-oncology team at Genentech, and that Genentech has once again elected to exercise an option to add a new program,” Bicycle CEO Kevin Lee, Ph.D., said in a statement. “This represents the second expansion option exercised by Genentech under the terms of our collaboration agreement, and we believe this highlights the potential of Bicycles across a wide range of targets.”