BioNTech strikes back-to-back immuno-oncology deals with Lilly and Genmab

BioNTech has snagged a small upfront fee to enter into an immuno-oncology co-development pact with Genmab (CPH:GEN). The deal was unveiled one week after Eli Lilly ($LLY) invested $30 million (€27 million) in BioNTech as part of an immuno-oncology deal worth a potential $300 million per asset.

BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin

Mainz, Germany-based BioNTech accepted a smaller sum from Genmab, which handed over $10 million and committed to $5 million in near-term milestones to enter into a collaboration. The milestones are tied to the selection of certain BioNTech candidates for further development. Work on the generation of one or more candidates worthy of advancement is now getting underway. Both companies are contributing to the research, with BioNTech providing immunomodulatory antibodies and Genmab contributing its bispecific antibody-discovery platform, DuoBody.

The partners think the combination of their respective assets will result in immune-stimulating, anti-cancer bispecific antibodies that would have been beyond the reach of either of them individually. "The collaboration with Genmab provides BioNTech with a great opportunity to jointly generate novel bispecific antibodies with unique immunomodulatory properties potentially suitable for the treatment of many cancers," BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin said in a statement. Genmab and BioNTech will split R&D costs and ownerships of assets equally.

Striking back-to-back deals with Genmab and Lilly bolsters BioNTech's credentials in the hot immuno-oncology sector. BioNTech's most advanced candidates are all RNA-based therapies, with three melanoma programs leading the way. The German biotech is investigating a broad range of ways to treat cancer, though, and also has cell and gene therapies, immunomodulators and other assets advancing through its early-stage pipeline.

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