Pieris Pharma nabs $20M upfront from Roche's Genentech for respiratory, ophthalmology pact

Four is more for Pieris Pharma.  

As if collaborations with AstraZeneca, Servier and Boston Pharmaceuticals weren’t enough, the clinical-stage biotech has signed another research collaboration and licensing agreement, this time with Roche’s Genentech in a deal that could surpass $1.4 billion in biobucks across multiple programs on top of tiered royalties for commercialization.  

The Boston-based novel biotherapeutics company will receive $20 million upfront from Genentech to team up on locally delivered respiratory and ophthalmology therapies using Pieris’ proprietary Anticalin technology.  

Pieris was trading about 34% higher Tuesday morning on the news, at $2.48 per share.  

“This is our second respiratory alliance with a major biopharma company, and we remain deeply committed to inhaled biologics, which have already shown benefit in the clinic. We also look forward to pursuing another local application of our technology in ophthalmology, where Genentech has extensive capabilities," said Stephen Yoder, Pieris CEO and president, in a statement.  

Pieris will take the reins on discovery research and preclinical development, while Genentech will handle clinical development and commercialization, the companies said. In exchange for an option exercise fee, Genentech can select additional targets to develop later. 

The Genentech deal is the latest in a string of cash infusions and partnerships for Pieris from Big Pharmas. Last month, AstraZeneca shelled out $23 million as part of a global phase 2a study of an inhaled IL-4 receptor alpha inhibitor for treating moderate to severe asthma, with data expected to be announced in 2022, Pieris said in its first-quarter earnings release. 

Pieris also snagged an exclusive product license agreement with Boston Pharmaceuticals last month to develop an immuno-oncology antibody bispecific fusion protein. That deal includes an upfront payment of $10 million and could provide Pieris with $353 million in additional biobucks for development, regulatory and sales-based milestones.  

All of that comes after Pieris took in $13 million from Seagen in an equity stake as part of an ongoing collaboration.  

Last fall, Pieris lost its head of clinical development, Ingmar Bruns, M.D., Ph.D. Bruns departed to become chief medical officer of Trillium Therapeutics.