OSE, Servier ink $10.7M deal to develop autoimmune drug

Servier and OSE Immunotherapeutics will develop the latter's interleukin-7 antagonist in a deal that could be worth up to $283 million.

OSE Immunotherapeutics has tapped Servier to develop and commercialize its interleukin-7 antagonist targeting autoimmune disease. OSE stands to earn up to €272 million ($283 million) under the worldwide license option agreement, which will see Servier handing over €10.25 million  ($10.7 million) up front.

The candidate, dubbed Effi-7, is an immunomodulatory monoclonal antibody that targets the primary chain of the interleukin-7 receptor, a protein found on the surface of cells. It works by inhibiting the IL-7 receptor and the internalization of the receptor. In vitro studies have shown that this prompts an antagonistic effect on T cells, which are implicated in autoimmune disease, according to a statement.

Effi-7 is currently in preclinical trials for ulcerative colitis, a chronic, inflammatory bowel disease that has no cure. Under the agreement, the pair will develop the candidate with other partners through Phase 2, after which Servier will take the reins, according to the statement. Further payments under the deal hinge upon clinical development and registration of the drug in multiple indications, as well as on sales milestones.

Servier will also kick off preclinical studies in Sjögren syndrome, an autoimmune disorder characterized by dry eyes and dry mouth. Like ulcerative colitis, Sjögren syndrome has no cure. Patients may manage symptoms by using eye drops and sipping water, but some require medications that increase saliva production.

“This partnership shows our willingness to focus our research on pathologies with very strong medical needs and to bring innovative therapeutic solutions to patients suffering from auto-inflammatory diseases,” said Patricia Belissa-Mathiot, Servier’s director for immune-inflammatory disease R&D, in the statement. “It demonstrates our commitment for research and the importance of partnerships with biotech companies.”

Servier’s other collaborations include a 2015 deal with Taiho Pharmaceutical, where it dropped  $130 million to get the rights to Taiho’s drug for refractory metastatic colorectal cancer. Also in 2015, Servier exited a $450 million oncology deal, originally struck in 2011, with MacroGenics after seeing Phase 1 data.