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AbbVie signs immunotherapy pact with I-Mab worth $2bn

Focus of deal is anti-CD47 monoclonal antibody lemzoparlimab

AbbVie has bulked up its immunotherapy pipeline after signing a deal worth $2bn for rights to Shanghai-based I-Mab’s anti-CD47 monoclonal antibody lemzoparlimab.

Under the terms of the deal, AbbVie will pay $180m upfront to gain an exclusive global licence, excluding China, to develop and commercialise lemzoparlimab. In addition, I-Mab will receive a milestone payment of $20m based on results from phase 1 studies of the drug.

The Chinese biotech will also be eligible to receive a further $1.74bn based on milestone payments, $840m of which is tied to clinical development and regulatory approval milestones.

If the drug proves effective and wins regulatory approval, AbbVie will also pay I-Mab tiered royalties from low-to-mid teen percentages on global net sales outside greater China.

Lemzoparlimab is designed to minimise binding to normal red blood cells while also demonstrating strong anti-tumour activity, which helps the drug to avoid side effects including anaemia. According to AbbVie, this is a critical attribute in potentially differentiating the drug from other antibodies in the same class that are currently in development.

It targets CD47, a cell membrane receptor belonging to the immunoglobulin (Ig) superfamily, which is found on the surface of many tumour types. It is thought to protect against tumour destruction by the immune system by sending out a ‘don’t eat me’ signal to macrophage cells.

Studies have also suggested that blocking CD47 can send some tumour cells into programmed cell death (apoptosis), and the receptor seems to play a key role in the tumour microenvironment, affecting cell growth and migration and blood vessel formation.

Some cancer cells express CD47 at very high levels and this seems to correlate with poor survival.

"Cancer is the second-leading cause of death globally and the need for novel cancer therapies has never been more acute. The addition of I-Mab's novel CD47 programmes complements our global clinical strategy in haematology and immuno-oncology," said Thomas Hudson, senior vice president of R&D and chief scientific officer at AbbVie.

"We have been impressed with what I-Mab has been able to accomplish in research and clinical development and we look forward to working together to make a meaningful difference in the lives of millions of patients globally,” he added.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

7th September 2020

From: Sales

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