Zai Lab to pay Schrödinger up to $338M in biobucks for oncology R&D collab

After linking arms with Mirati Therapeutics and MacroGenics in recent months, Zai Lab is once again making deals, this time signing an oncology R&D pact with molecule modeler Schrödinger that could reach $338 million in biobucks. 

Shanghai-based Zai Lab and New York-based Schrödinger company will collaborate on an oncology program that targets DNA damage response, the companies said Wednesday.

If all goes well, the deal would add to Zai's deep pipeline. The biopharma has more than 15 drug candidates in the works.

RELATED: Zai Lab to pay MacroGenics $25M upfront with $1.4B in potential biobucks for bispecific immuno-oncology antibodies

Each company will fund its own research program, but Zai Lab will pay Schrödinger an undisclosed upfront amount to help fund the New York-based software company's share of the research. Once a development candidate is chosen, Zai will take over responsibility for global development, manufacturing and commercialization. The software maker snags co-development and co-commercialization rights in the U.S. 

Should Schrödinger elect to co-fund clinical development for a product as part of the collab, then the company will be entitled to half of the profits in the U.S. if the product comes to fruition. And besides the $338 million tied to various milestones being achieved, Schrödinger can also receive royalties on net sales outside the U.S. 

“[T]he structure of this collaboration provides us with the opportunity to gain development and commercial expertise and the potential to participate more significantly in the downstream value of the program," said Karen Akinsanya, Ph.D., executive vice president, chief biomedical scientist and head of discovery R&D at Schrödinger.

RELATED: Schrödinger's in-house pipeline helps fetch $2.7B molecule discovery deal with BMS

This is far from Schrödinger's first such collaboration. In November, Bristol Myers Squibb said it would pay the company $55 million upfront and up to $2.7 billion in milestone payments for a multi-disease drug discovery collaboration. Then, in April of this year, Schrödinger teamed up with Nvidia on a partnership to make its software compatible for faster and more accurate molecular modeling.

Wednesday's collaboration also adds Zai Lab's list of pacts in recent months. In mid-June, the company said it would pay MacroGenics $25 million upfront and up to $1.4 billion in biobucks for four CD3- or CD47-based bispecific antibodies for immuno-oncology.