Takeda inks sweet $1.2B-plus deal with Kumquat for immuno-oncology program

Takeda is offering Kumquat Biosciences the chance to make more than $1.2 billion biobucks in a new exclusive pact that centers around an unnamed immuno-oncology small-molecule inhibitor.

Kumquat, after running phase 1 trial activities, can grant Takeda global licensing rights to develop and commercialize the asset, according to agreement terms shared April 16.

Subject to Kumquat's option, Big Pharma Takeda will then take on responsibility for all development and commercialization activities following phase 1. The selected program can be developed as a monotherapy, combo therapy or both, according to the April 16 release.

In exchange, Kumquat is set to make up to $130 million in near-term payments, with the additional chance to grab more than $1.2 billion in future clinical, regulatory and commercial milestones, plus tiered royalties on top of that.

“This collaboration aligns with our mission to advance a cutting-edge pipeline focused on maximizing the benefit of the immune system to address the continued unmet needs of cancer patients,” P.K. Morrow, Takeda’s newly tapped lead of the oncology therapeutic area unit, said in the release. Morrow left CRISPR Therapeutics at the beginning of the year for the new role. "We look forward to working with Kumquat to accelerate the development of this exciting asset."

Kumquat is a private oncology biotech launched in 2019 that has shared little publicly about its anti-cancer small-molecule platform. The California company snagged a partnership with Eli Lilly back in 2021 with $70 million upfront and the chance to make more than $2 billion biobucks. The collaboration targets small molecules that stimulate tumor-specific immune responses.

The biotech has also pulled in financial backing from another Big Pharma, securing early funding from Roche’s venture fund.