Roche, Innovent Sign Billion Dollar Deal for Bispecific Antibodies
By Pavel Ryzhov, Ph.D.
Strategic partnerships between companies in the biopharma industry often lead to successful product development and launches. The favorable outcome may be due to leveraging each others’ unique research and clinical insights, technical and manufacturing capabilities, or regulatory and commercialization pathways. This is critical for reducing operational costs, and accelerating the drug development and commercialization pipeline, which can climb north of 1 billion dollars in R&D and clinical trial expenditures and over 10 years of waiting.
For Innovent Biologics, a biopharma that specializes in the R&D of cancer, metabolic, and autoimmune disease drugs, it means partnering with Roche. In an official press release, both companies announced that the partnership will be geared towards the treatment of hematologic and solid cancers. Specifically, Innovent will get access to certain Roche technologies for the discovery and development of T-cell bispecific antibodies and access to CAR T-cell technology platform by paying upfront, development, and commercial milestone payments and royalties.
T-cell Bispecific Antibodies (TCB)
TCB is an emerging cancer immunotherapy approach that leverages a specific class of antibodies that can simultaneously bind both the tumor cell and a T-cell via separate epitopes . CAR T involves altering the patient’s T-cells to display a specific cancer cell receptor, thus, allowing them to bind and attack them. Access to these technologies would then allow Innovent to bring these future therapeutics to the Chinese market, with Roche retaining an option right to license them outside of China. If it does so, under the terms of the agreement, Roche would have to pay option exercise payments worth $140 million along with development, approval, and sales milestone payments worth $1.96 billion. This would reduce the R&D risk for Roche but has an added benefit of potentially diversifying and strengthening their existing treatment option portfolio if Innovent is successful in China.
According to Dr. Michael Yu, Chairman, and CEO of Innovent Biologics, the company is taking “a much bolder step” by building upon Roche’s existing universal CAR-T technology and 2:1 T-cell bispecific antibody platform. He also mentioned that this partnership with Roche and the rapid advancement of these technologies would serve as a “proof of concept stage in China”, but because of the licensing aspect of the deal, patients across the world can still get access to these therapeutics.
The announced partnership between Roche and Innovent will contribute to further development of novel biologics, making antibody-based therapies increasingly more prevalent for the treatment of various cancers.
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