Regeneron swoops in with $2B bispecifics biobucks pact for empty-handed CytomX

Cytomx was in need of a project after abandoning its one and only clinical asset and embarking on a pipeline rebuild. Enter Regeneron, with a research pact to create new bispecific cancer therapies in a deal that could top out at $2 billion.

But first, CytomX will receive an upfront payment of $30 million to get started, with the additional billions paid out based on certain milestones. The biotech is also eligible for royalties. 

The goal is to create bispecific cancer therapies that remain inactive until activated by the proteases in a tumor’s microenvironment. The companies say this approach could reduce off-target effects and possibly tap into tumor types that have previously evaded immunotherapy.

CytomX and Regeneron will work together on discovery activities to select conditionally active bispecifics. Regeneron will fund the preclinical, clinical and commercialization work.

The Regeneron pact is a nice vote of confidence for CytomX after the company was forced to slash its staff back in July by 40% due to the failure of a breast cancer therapy. At the time, CytomX abandoned the CD166-directed antibody-drug conjugate praluzatamab ravtansine in triple-negative breast cancer but said it would consider a partner for the program if one should turn up. The company conducted the layoffs to extend its cash runway to allow for a rebuilding of the pipeline.

The biotech's shares opened at around $1.50, up 24% compared to a previous close of $1.21.  

CytomX now has a project thanks to Regeneron, which has also been doing a bit of housecleaning. The pharma recently axed two therapies for chronic pain and cat allergy.