Pfizer bets up to $1B on BioAtla's approach to immuno-oncology

San Diego biotech BioAtla is sharing its immuno-oncology assets with Pfizer ($PFE) in a deal worth up to $1 billion, mixing and matching technologies in hopes of hitting on a winning combination.

Under the agreement, BioAtla is handing over some of its conditionally active biologics, or CABs, which are immunotherapeutics that can be switched on in the presence of certain antigens. And Pfizer is bringing a stable of antibody-drug conjugates, or ADCs, which use antibodies to ferry treatments to specific targets. Combined, the partners believe they can craft CAB-powered ADCs that can more safely deliver cancer-killing drugs to a wide range of tumor types.

The plan is to split development and commercialization rights between the two companies, with each in line for milestone payments and royalties related to the other's work. Pfizer is also in-licensing a CAB project that targets the protein CTLA-4, a so-called immune checkpoint that hampers the body's ability to detect cancer. In exchange, the Big Pharma is promising BioAtla an untold upfront sum and down-the-road payments totaling as much as $1 billion.

For BioAtla, the deal comes about 6 months after the company raised $30 million in equity from an undisclosed group of Chinese investors. The company, founded in 2007, operates out of San Diego with labs in Beijing.

- read the statement

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