Roche aims for MacroGenics bull's-eye with $380M DART deal

Recipharm in Spain taken over from Roche
The deal could be worth as much as $380 million, but only $10 million is being delivered upfront.

After its $1.7 billion deal to buy out cancer biotech Ignyta in the dying days of 2017, Roche, ahead of J.P. Morgan’s annual meeting next week, has penned another deal, this time with DART player MacroGenics.

Roche now ties itself to former Fierce 15 winner MacroGenics to “jointly discover and develop novel bispecific molecules to undisclosed targets,” according to a brief statement from the pair, and builds on the Swiss major’s long-standing research into the bispecific arena.

Both will tap their respective research platforms, with MacroGenics’ DART platform and Roche’s CrossMAb and DutaFab tech coming into play in order to select a bispecific format and lead product candidate.

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Under the collaboration, which is worth just $10 million upfront, but with a backloaded $370 million in biobucks on offer, Roche would then further develop and sell any drug coming out of it. And that’s all she wrote on the details.

Back in October, Incyte paid $150 million upfront for worldwide rights to MacroGenics’ PD-1 drug; that pact includes $750 million in milestones.

RELATED: Incyte pays MacroGenics $150M for PD-1 inhibitor

But the biotech has been off-target in recent years, with Janssen back in the fall ending a license deal with MacroGenics for duvortuxizumab, a CD19- and CD3-targeting drug for B-cell malignancies it paid $125 million upfront for in 2014. It hasn’t severed ties with the biotech entirely but cut loose from duvortuxizumab after treatment-related neurotoxicity blighted tests.

RELATED: Tox prompts Janssen to drop MacroGenics' cancer antibody

And back in 2015, a similar fate befell its $450 million deal with Servier, which saw the biopharma walk away from one of its partnerships with MacroGenics, handing back the rights to cancer immunotherapy enoblituzumab after getting a glimpse at clinical data. There was a very similar story with Takeda back in the fall of 2016, too. But with just $10 million upfront, Roche is taking little financial risk here.

“MacroGenics and Roche are both leaders in the field of bispecifics and have each advanced numerous molecules into clinical testing,” Scott Koenig, M.D., Ph.D., president and CEO of MacroGenics, said in the statement. “By combining our two companies’ respective scientific talent, technology platforms and experience, we hope to generate a compelling product candidate to address unmet patient needs.”