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Affimed rockets on $5bn-plus Roche immuno-oncology deal

Deal is latest in series of big pharma investments in cancer immunotherapies

Roche

German biotech Affimed saw its share price more than triple yesterday after Roche’s Genentech agreed an alliance to discover new cancer immunotherapies with a jaw-dropping milestone figure.

Roche is paying $96m in upfront and near-term funding under the terms of the deal – already a sizeable commitment for a platform-based deal – but Affimed could also pocket up to an additional $5bn in development, regulatory and commercial milestones, plus royalties on sales.

The size of the deal is a big endorsement of Affimed’s Redirected Optimized Cell Killing (ROCK) platform, a toolbox of antibody scaffolds, linkers and domains that can be used to engineer drugs that affect the activity of natural killer (NK) cells and T-cells and direct them against cancers.

Roche – which is already an emerging player in immuno-oncology with its Tecentriq (atezolizumab) PD-L1 inhibitor and a pipeline of new candidates – says it wants to use the technology across “multiple undisclosed solid and haematologic tumour targets.”

Affimed’s platform can be used to generate antibodies against multiple molecular targets and has already generated two clinical-stage candidates being developed in-house by the German company, namely AFM13 which targets CD30 and is in a phase 2a Hodgkin lymphoma study, and AFM24 which targets CD19 and is in phase I for non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) and acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL).

A third drug from the platform –CD33/CD3 T cell engager AMV564 – has been licensed to US biotech Amphivena and is in phase I for the treatment of acute myeloid leukaemia (AML).

Under the terms of the deal, Affimed and Genentech will work together during the discovery, early- and late-stage research phases, with Genentech taking over once projects reach the clinical development stage.

Affimed’s Nadaq-listed shares leaped from $1.60 ahead of the announcement to $5.55 yesterday, and continued to gain ground after hours, adding another 10% pre-market to to the $6 mark at the time of writing.

“We are incredibly excited to work with Genentech, a leader in oncology with a long history of excellence in the discovery and development of medicines to treat cancer,” said Affimed chief executive Adi Hoess in a statement.

“This strategic partnership marks an important step on our path to leverage the full potential of innate immune cells in oncology.”

Article by
Phil Taylor

29th August 2018

From: Sales

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