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GSK pays $85m upfront for Surface Oncology’s lead cancer drug

British pharma company adds preclinical antibody to its pipeline

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has added a preclinical oncology asset to its pipeline after paying $85m upfront for Surface Oncology’s lead asset.

The preclinical programme includes SRF813, a fully human IgG1 antibody targeting PVRIG – an inhibitory protein expressed on natural killer cells (NK cells) and T cells.

SRF813 binds to a distinct epitope on PVRIG and blocks the interaction between this protein and CD112, its binding partner that is over-expressed on tumour cells.

According to Surface, in preclinical studies SRF813 was found to promote the activation of both NK cells and T cells, which it says reflects a potential to produce strong anti-tumour responses and promote immunological memory.

Currently, SRF813 is in investigational new drug (IND)-enabling studies, with an IND filing planned for 2021.

As well as the upfront payment, Surface will be eligible to receive up to an additional $730m in future milestone payments, as well as tiered royalties on global net sales.

“GSK’s R&D approach focuses on the science of the immune system and I am excited to add a natural killer cell approach, such as SRF813, as it complements our existing programmes focused on T cell/adaptive immunity,” said Axel Hoos, senior vice president and head of oncology R&D at GSK.

“We’re making great progress to build an exciting pipeline of new oncology therapies with transformational potential for patients. I strongly believe that we are uniquely positioned to maximise the potential of SRF813 for patients, both as monotherapy and in potential combinations with our investigational anti-CD96 and anti-PD1 assets,” he added.

Aside from SRF813, Surface’s wholly-owned lead programmes includes a CD39-targeting asset – SRF617 – and an IL-27 inhibitor – SRF388. It also has a preclinical programme developing a CCR8-targeting asset – SRF114 – focused on depleting regulatory T cells.

“The economics of the (GSK) transaction position us well to continue to drive the development of our wholly-owned clinical programmes, SRF617 and SRF388, while also advancing SRF114, our CCR8 targeted programme,” said Jeff Goater, chief executive officer of Surface.

The biotech also has a clinical-stage collaboration programme with Novartis which includes a CD73-targeting asset – NZV930.

Novartis signed an agreement with Surface in 2016 to license four preclinical programmes from Surface’s portfolio.

The company is also collaborating with Merck & Co (MSD) on a clinical trial evaluating the safety and efficacy of SRF617 in combination with Merck’s blockbuster PD-1 inhibitor Keytruda (pembrolizumab).

Article by
Lucy Parsons

18th December 2020

From: Research

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