CytomX Therapeutics, Inc and Astellas Pharma Inc. announced they have entered into a strategic collaboration agreement focused on the discovery, research, development and commercialization of novel T-cell engaging bispecific antibodies targeting CD3 and tumor cell surface antigens for the treatment of cancer. The parties will utilize CytomX’s Probody® therapeutic technology platform, as well as its proprietary bispecific formats and CD3 modules.
“This collaboration with Astellas leverages CytomX’s deep expertise in targeting multiple antibody modalities to the tumor microenvironment,” said Sean McCarthy, D. Phil., President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of CytomX. “We are excited about the use of our technology to assist Astellas in unlocking the potential of T-cell engaging bispecifics in the treatment of solid tumors, building on the growing proof of concept we have established for our platform.”
“At Astellas, immuno-oncology is a Primary Focus of our research and development strategy, and we are working on the development of next-generation cancer immuno-therapy using new modalities/technologies,” stated Naoki Okamura, Representative Director Corporate Executive Vice President, Chief Strategy Officer and Chief Financial Officer, Astellas.“We look forward to the collaboration with CytomX, which will enable us to leverage both companies capabilities and expand our next-generation immuno-oncology therapeutic pipeline as we continue to dedicate our efforts to deliver innovative treatments for diseases with high unmet medical needs.”
Probody® therapeutics are designed to remain inactive until they are activated by proteases in the tumor microenvironment. As a result, Probody® therapeutics are designed to bind selectively to tumors and minimize binding to healthy tissue, thereby reducing toxicities and potentially creating safer, more effective therapies. Probody T-cell engaging bispecifics are antibody constructs capable of directing cytotoxic T-cells to tumor microenvironments, leading to cell-mediated anti-cancer activity.
Under the agreement, CytomX and Astellas will collaborate on several initial programs. CytomX will lead research and discovery activities, up to clinical candidate selection, that will be funded by Astellas. Astellas will lead and fund preclinical and clinical development and commercialization activities. Astellas will make an upfront cash payment of $80 million to CytomX with CytomX eligible to receive future preclinical, clinical and commercial milestones of over $1.6 billion. CytomX is also eligible to receive tiered royalties on global net sales that range from high-single digits to mid-teens.
For a specified number of targets, prior to the initiation of the first pivotal clinical trial for a product directed toward such target, CytomX may exercise an option to co-fund a pre-determined portion of clinical development costs. For these products, CytomX is eligible to receive a pre-specified portion of profits in the United States and tiered low-double digit to mid-teen percentage royalties on net sales outside of the United States. CytomX may later elect to co-commercialize the products directed toward such targets in the United States.
Astellas Pharma Inc., based in Tokyo, Japan, is a company dedicated to improving the health of people around the world through the provision of innovative and reliable pharmaceutical products.