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GSK strikes $170m-plus ‘synthetic lethality’ cancer deal with Ideaya

Deal allows GSK to bulk up its in-house work on synthetic lethality

GSK HQ

GlaxoSmithKline has made another push back into cancer R&D via a licensing deal with US biotech Ideaya focusing on ‘synthetic lethality’ – an approach that aims to force cancer cells to commit suicide.

GSK is paying $100m upfront to San Francisco-based Ideaya – and is making a $20m equity investment in the biotech – in return for a stake in three synthetic lethality programmes that are based on using gene-editing to find pairs of mutations that when targeted result in tumour cell death.

It’s a concept that is well established in cancer research and underpins the activity of a number of cancer drugs, including GSK’s own PARP inhibitor Zejula (niraparib), which it acquired along with Tesaro in a $5.1bn deal that closed last year.

PARP inhibitors kill tumours that are defective in BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes using synthetic lethality, but GSK’s alliance with Ideaya is focusing on three other cellular targets – namely MAT2A, Pol Theta and Werner Helicase.

The UK drugmaker is also offering a $50m fee if it decides to take up an option on the MAT2A programme, which focuses on the 15% of solid tumours that have cells carrying an MTAP gene deletion. The deal also includes undisclosed preclinical, clinical and sales milestone payments.

MAT2A candidate IDE397 is the lead candidate in Ideaya’s synthetic lethality pipeline. All the programmes in the GSK deal are at the preclinical stage of development and expected to start clinical testing within three years.

The deal allows GSK to bulk up its in-house work on synthetic lethality, which is one of four core research areas for the company’s oncology unit.

It’s another example of GSK expanding its oncology pipeline under new R&D chief Hal Barron, which has already seen its portfolio double to 17 clinical-stage projects since he came on board, after all-but exiting the category a few years ago via an asset-swap deal with Novartis.

In February it extended its position in another core area – cell therapies – via licensing deal with Germany’s Immatics that included $50m upfront for two initial programmes and up to $550m apiece in development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments plus royalties.

Ideaya will take the lead on the MAT2A programme through early-stage clinical development, and fund it until GSK takes a decision on its option. If it goes ahead, the big pharma will then assume 80% of the cost of further development.

If all goes well, the biotech is in line for a 50% US profit share as well as ex-US royalties for the MAT2A and Werner Helicase programmes, and royalties for Pol Theta.

Article by
Phil Taylor

17th June 2020

From: Research, Regulatory

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