Leo Pharma pens Oneness Biotech, Microbio Shanghai pact for skin and asthma drug

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(Leo Pharma)

Leo Pharma is paying $40 million upfront and $530 million in biobucks to license a midstage experimental eczema and asthma drug.

The therapy, FB825, has been developed by Oneness Biotech and Microbio Shanghai and works by targeting the CεmX domain of the membrane-bound IgE (mIgE). This causes a depletion of mIgE-positive B cells.

Dermatology specialist Leo has liked what it has seen from the drug. Kim Kjoeller, M.D., executive vice president for global R&D at Leo, said: “Having seen the first-in-human data of FB825 and the reduction in Eczema Area and Severity Index scores (an indicator of AD severity), we feel that we are welcoming a promising novel drug candidate into our development pipeline. No two patients are alike, and as there is a high unmet need we are committed to building a diverse pipeline that represents a broad range of molecules and mechanisms of action.”

This commitment sees it pay an upfront of just $40 million for the med but with backloaded biobucks worth $530 million also on the table, followed by tiered high single-digit to double-digit royalties.

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The deal breaks down like this: Oneness will be responsible for the phase 2a test in atopic dermatitis, which is being done in the U.S., while Microbio Shanghai will take on the other phase 2a, in allergic asthma, which is being done in China.

After these, in steps, Leo will take on full responsibility for the drug. The three did not say whether the ongoing pandemic would affect the timelines of the phase 2a tests.