Summit bets $5B that Akeso's bispecific antibody will ascend clinical peaks in cancer

Summit Therapeutics is making good on its name, betting a staggering $5 billion (not a typo), including $500 million in upfront cash, for Akesio’s bispecific antibody.

The deal is one of the largest deals in 2022 and in recent memory, reminiscent of AstraZeneca’s potential $6 billion licensing pact for Daichii Sankyo’s TROP2 antibody-drug conjugate disclosed in 2020. The asset at the center of the deal announced Tuesday was ivonescimab, a bispecific antibody that acts as both a PD-1 blocker and blood vessel growth inhibitor. It’s also a follow-up to Akesio’s China-approved PD-1/CTLA-4 bispecific Kaitanni for metastatic cervical cancer.

In a release, Summit says the bispecific’s targets could offer up familiar immunotherapy benefits with fewer side effects. Data presented at ASCO found that the med had an overall response rate of 68.4% among patients with non-small cell lung cancer who had previously failed EGFR-TKI treatment. Median progression-free survival was 8.2 months when the bispecific was paired with combination chemotherapy versus the chemo alone. 

“Following intense and in-depth strategic, scientific, and operational discussion on ivonescimab between the Akeso and Summit teams in recent months, we are more confident than ever on a winning path for ivonescimab’s global development,” said Akesio co-founder and CEO Michelle Xia, Ph.D.

In exchange for the gargantuan offer, Summit is receiving the rights to develop and commercialize ivonescimab—known as SMT112 stateside—in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Japan. The company says it plans to start treating lung cancer patients in clinical studies by the second quarter of 2023. 

Akesio will retain rights to develop and sell the drug in China and stands to make low double-digit royalties on any of Summits’ sales. To help finance this deal and subsequent clinical development, Summit is offering up a $500 million rights offering and is being loaned $520 million from the company’s co-CEOs, Bob Duggan and Maky Zanganeh. Almost all of that loan—$500 million worth—is coming from Duggan. The company also noted that funds raised will go towards other potential deals that could expand its pipeline and “general corporate purposes.” 

The deal appeared to pique Wall Street’s interest, with Summit’s shares eclipsing the $1 per share threshold, jumping more than 82% up to $1.43 per share Tuesday morning.