Endocyte inks Japan licensing deal for cancer Dx imaging agent

Endocyte ($ECYT) has sealed a deal with Nihon Medi-Physics to develop and commercialize its diagnostic imaging agent etarfolatide in Japan.

Neither side is disclosing financial details, though Endocyte gets an initial payment and can earn much more based on development, regulatory and sales royalty milestones.  They are an equally matched pair. Endocyte develops both drugs and companion imaging diagnostic agents for personalized treatments in cancer and other major diseases. Nihon Medi-Physics is a Japan-based maker of radiopharmaceuticals for nuclear medicine procedures, with a sweet spot in single-photon emission computed tomography imaging.

In essence, their agreement will focus on bringing etarfolatide to market as a companion diagnostic imaging agent for cancer indications. The companies will target Japanese regulatory approval to use eterfolatide for certain patients who respond best to Endocyte's drug vintafolide, which is designed to hit cancer tumors that express folate receptors. For Endocyte, it builds on an earlier deal the company signed with Merck ($MRK) worth as much as $1 billion, licensing global rights to vintafolide.

Right now, etarfolatide and vintafolide are in a Phase III randomized, double-blind clinical trial for platinum-resistant ovarian cancer, and both are under review for marketing approval in Europe.

Endocyte president and CEO Ron Ellis said in a statement that the deal validates his company's technology and its potential, and that NMP will be a good partner in its Japanese approval quest.

- read the release

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