Momenta Pharma gets $50M upfront for CSL drug development pact

The deal could swell to more than $500 million in biobucks and comes after Momenta suffered a big trial setback in 2016.

Momenta was up nearly 6% after hours last night when it unveiled a new research deal with CSL Limited for its Fc multimer proteins, months after flopping in a phase 2 cancer test.

Under this exclusive collab, the pair have agreed to develop and sell the biotech’s Fc multimer proteins, including Momenta’s M230, a selective immunomodulator of Fc receptors, which is slated to enter the clinic later this year.

CSL will stump up $50 million upfront with around $550 million in biobucks also in the cards, as well as a clause that allows Momenta a cost and profit sharing arrangement, which could see Momenta fund some global development and selling costs in exchange for a share of U.S. profits, as well as milestones and royalties outside the U.S.

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This will be a much-needed boost for Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Momenta, which back in August last year stopped a midstage pancreatic cancer trial of its candidate necuparanib following an interim futility analysis.

The data and safety monitoring board ran the analysis once 57 patients in the 120-person trial had died, leading to the conclusion that necuparanib was showing insufficient efficacy to justify continuing the study.

This was a major blow given that necuparanib was spearheading Momenta’s advance into novel drugs, and outside of this med sees Momenta left with only a few early-stage assets and biosimilars, as well as several generic marketed products it sells with other companies.

These assets include M230, and the deal with CSL will at least give it some breathing space and extra money in the short term, and more in the future if testing goes well.

As of Sept. 30 last year, according to its most recent financials, Momenta had $309 million in cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities.

The biotech was up 5.8% last night in after-hours trading on the news, after being down more than 1% before the release in normal hours, with a market cap over $1 billion.

Craig Wheeler, president and CEO of Momenta, said: “This collaboration and license agreement with CSL validates our belief that M230 is an exciting recombinant product candidate for potential use in autoimmune indications. It was developed using our proprietary Fc biology platform and understanding of how intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) works in autoimmune diseases.

“As the global leader in immunoglobulin (Ig) therapy, CSL is the ideal development and commercialization partner for us in the area of Fc biology given their expertise in developing plasma-derived medicines and focus on creating disruptive recombinant products in the autoimmune space.”

Paul Perreault, CEO and MD of CSL, added: “M230 is a very exciting prospect and offers CSL the potential to further grow and expand our long-term global leadership in helping those patients with autoimmune diseases that are treated with immunoglobulins.”