Shares of Denmark-based Genmab climbed this morning after the company announced a broad oncology alliance with AbbVie that is valued at close to $4 billion, one of the largest oncology partnerships in the industry.
The collaboration, which includes a $750 million upfront payment by AbbVie, will focus on the development of three of Genmab’s bispecific antibodies and will also involve a discovery research collaboration for future antibody therapeutics for cancer. More specifically, the two companies will partner to develop Genmab’s next-generation bispecific antibody programs, epcoritamab (DuoBody-CD3xCD20), DuoHexaBody-CD37 and DuoBody-CD3x5T4.
Epcoritamab is designed to target CD3, which is expressed on T cells and is part of the T cell receptor signaling complex, and CD20, a clinically well-validated therapeutic target. CD20 is expressed on a majority of B cell malignancies. Epcoritamab is currently in a Phase I/II clinical trial for B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Per the agreement announced today, the two companies will share commercial responsibilities in the U.S. and Japan for epcoritamab and AbbVie will be responsible for further global commercialization. For the discovery research partnership, Genmab will conduct Phase 1 studies for these programs. AbbVie retains the right to opt-in to program development=, the companies said in the announcement.
Genmab and AbbVie will combine proprietary antibodies from both companies along with Genmab’s DuoBody technology and AbbVie’s payload and ADC technology to select and develop up to four additional differentiated next-generation antibody-based product candidates. Genmab’s DuoBody-CD3 technology engages and directs cytotoxic T cells selectively to tumors to produce an immune response towards cancer cells. AbbVie’s ADC technology provides a targeted and direct delivery of a therapeutic toxin to cancer cells, which spares healthy cells. The hope is these candidates will be viable against both solid tumors and hematological cancers.
Michael Severino, president of AbbVie, called epcoritamab a “strong fit” for the company’s hematological oncology franchise. Severino said that by combining the strengths of AbbVie with Genmab, they will be able to advance the treatment landscape for patients battling cancer.
Genmab Chief Executive Officer Jan van de Winkel called the collaboration with AbbVie transformative. The combination of the company’s strengths will allow Genmab to accelerate and maximize the development of epcoritamab and other early-stage bispecific antibodies and bring them to patients faster.
“Today’s announcement marks the beginning of a new journey for Genmab that combines our world-class knowledge in antibody biology and deep expertise in truly innovative next-generation antibody technology platforms, with AbbVie’s R&D prowess and their leadership position in hematological cancers,” van de Winkel said in a statement.
Under terms of the 50/50 deal, AbbVie will provide for the significant upfront payment and up to $3.15 billion in additional milestone payments. Genmab also stands to earn tiered royalties between 22% and 26% on net sales for epcoritamab outside the U.S. and Japan.
As a result of this agreement, Genmab is improving its financial guidance for 2020.
Genmab has made a string of collaboration deals in the past year, including with CureVac to develop mRNA-based antibody therapeutics, as well as Janssen. In that partnership, the companies will collaborate on a successor to multiple myeloma drug Darzalex with the development of a next-generation CD38 antibody product for the treatment of multiple myeloma and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma.