MacroGenics banks $20M in potential $1.1B cancer-drugs deal with Servier

MacroGenics has landed another pharma deal. This time, the biotech has sealed a second pact with French drugmaker Servier, which has tapped MacroGenics' Dual-Affinity Re-Targeting (DART) platform in an option-based deal focused on bi-specific antibodies against three mystery cancer-immune targets, the U.S. biotech announced this morning.

With plans to beef up its oncology franchise, Servier has paid the Rockville, MD-based biotech $20 million upfront for the option to commercialize the three bi-specific antibodies in markets outside the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Japan, Korea and India. MacroGenics, which could reap up to $1.1 billion in payments from Servier in the deal, has nailed down agreements with three major drugmakers for candidates from its DART platform. Pfizer ($PFE) and Boehringer Ingelheim inked deals with the drug developer announced in October 2010 on the strength of the platform.

Venture-backed MacroGenics has raised hundreds of millions of dollars in partnerships with pharma groups interested in its experimental biologics, CEO Dr. Scott Koenig told FierceBiotech in an interview. And a series of licensing deals over the past two years have enabled the biotech to quickly shift gears after its lead drug--an anti-CD3 monoclonal antibody called teplizumab-- failed to hit the primary endpoint in a late-stage study of patients with Type 1 diabetes, a setback for both MacroGenics and partner Eli Lilly ($LLY).

"As we were anticipating results to that Phase III study," Koenig said in the interview, "we were also preparing for upside potential for the company in terms of expanding the therapeutic areas we were working in, [including] oncology, as well as evolving our platform."

Servier hit up MacroGenics for the first time late last year in a deal to license the biotech's antibody drug called MGA271, which targets the B7-H3 immune receptor and is working its way through early-stage clinical development. In this latest deal, the French drug company has taken an interest in bi-specific antibodies that "redirect" the immune system to wipe out cancer cells. Servier has committed to paying fees totaling $80 million if it exercises its options on all three of the now preclinical candidates and up to $1 billion in additional potential payments tied to the programs from clinical development through commercialization.

MacroGenics shows how a biotech discovery platform offers ample opportunities to forge deals with pharma, enabling a developer to bounce back quickly from a single pipeline setback--even a major one. The company has advanced preclinical programs in its DART-related collaborations with Boehringer and Pfizer, Koenig says, notching 5 milestones in 2011 and at least one so far in 2012. And the CEO aims to advance the first of the drugs from that platform into human clinical development as early as late-2013.

- here's the press release