Synta Pharmaceuticals broke the billion-dollar mark in its new licensing deal with GlaxoSmithKline. Glaxo has agreed to pay Synta $80 million up front and up to $1.1 billion in total for the deal covering STA-4783, which has demonstrated efficacy in improving median survival rates for melanoma patients in a mid-stage study. In Phase II volunteers taking the therapy in combination with chemotherapy had a median survival rate of 12 months compared to 5.6 months for patients receiving chemotherapy alone. Progression free survival at six months jumped from 15 percent to 35 percent. The therapy is about to be tested in a late-stage trial.
Synta, which we recognized as a Fierce 15 company in 2004, has been developing therapies that kill cancer cells by raising oxidative stress levels in cancer cells to the point they self destruct. Normal cells are not affected by the treatment. For Glaxo, the deal underscores its willingness to get out the check book in order to beef up its lineup of late-stage cancer therapies. Glaxo committed $135 million for regulatory approval, $450 million for other indications and $300 million for sales targets. Another $45 million could be invested in Synta stock.