ArGEN-X pairs up with Leo Pharma in a $116M dermatology deal

The antibody experts at arGEN-X have teamed up with dermatology-focused biotech Leo Pharma on a treatment for inflammatory skin diseases, inking a deal worth up to $116 million.

Under the agreement, arGEN-X will hand over a preclinical antibody in exchange for €4.5 million ($5 million) in pre-IND payments and as much as €100 million ($111 million) more tied to clinical, regulatory and sales milestones. The pair plans to split development costs as the treatment moves through preclinical development, and arGEN-X is due a double-digit royalty on sales if the antibody makes it to the market.

The treatment, developed with arGEN-X's proprietary antibody platform, has demonstrated promise in inflammation-related skin diseases, the company said. And Leo, with its wide pipeline of dermatology treatments, is the ideal partner to push it forward, arGEN-X CEO Tim Van Hauwermeiren said.

"We see huge potential in this new partnership in harnessing the complementary expertise of both companies: arGEN-X's advanced knowledge and capabilities in therapeutic antibody development and LEO Pharma's global expertise in bringing products to market that meets the needs of dermatology patients," Van Hauwermeiren said in a statement. "We see LEO Pharma's selection of our program and approach to antibody creation as an important validation of our position in the therapeutic antibody space."

Each of arGEN-X's in-house projects stems from its in-house Simple Antibody system, a discovery platform based on the immune system of llamas that the company touts as better than traditional transgenic mouse models in churning out antibodies that match variable genes in humans. The system has fueled arGEN-X's development deals with Shire ($SHPG), Bayer, Boehringer Ingelheim and others.

The promise of arGEN-X's pipeline helped the Dutch biotech raise about $54.5 million in a Brussels IPO last year, funding the company's work in oncology and autoimmunity.

- read the statement