NORTH CHICAGO, Ill. & LA JOLLA, Calif.—A good partner is worth holding on to, which is an attitude both AbbVie and The Scripps Research Institute support. The organizations inked an alliance last year, and given the positive results of that deal thus far, announced another collaboration this week. The most recent agreement will be centered on the development of new therapies in indications such as oncology, immunology, neurology and fibrosis.
"Based on our strong switchable CAR-T alliance launched in 2018, we feel the expanded relationship with AbbVie represents a robust path forward for some of our programs, complementing a diverse ecosystem of innovation we've created over the past several years at Scripps to advance life-changing therapies," remarked Dr. Peter Schultz, CEO of Scripps Research and Calibr, its drug discovery division.
"The best way to develop transformational medicines is through collaborations that bring together the brightest minds," added Dr. Mohit Trikha, vice president and head of oncology early development, AbbVie. "This partnership with Scripps Research will collaboratively advance next-generation programs, build stronger relationships with proven and emerging scientific leaders, and most importantly, help us advance novel medicines for patients. We are eager to partner with Scripps on these assets as they enter the clinic over the next few years, as Scripps has one of the strongest track records of any academic institution when it comes to advancing novel medicines for patients."
The agreement covers certain programs that are in preclinical to IND stages of development, and beyond those, Scripps will also present AbbVie with a set number of preclinical programs of mutual interest per year to be considered for inclusion in this deal. Both partners will work on the development of CD3 bispecifics against AbbVie-selected oncology targets. Scripps will conduct preclinical research and development on given programs, as well as Phase 1 clinical trials in some cases. For its part, AbbVie has an exclusive license to further develop and commercialize selected programs. Should the company exercise its option, Scripps stands to receive additional payments, including option exercise fees, success-based development and commercial milestone payments, and tiered royalties. Though specific amounts were not disclosed, AbbVie will also make an upfront payment to Scripps, in addition to a near-term milestone payments if certain success criteria are met.
This news comes two weeks after AbbVie announced the expansion of another partnership. The company, and its partner Harpoon Therapeutics Inc., struck up an exclusive worldwide option and license transaction for HPN217, a B cell maturation antigen (BCMA)-targeting Tri-specific T cell Activating Construct (TriTAC) developed by Harpoon. In addition, the two companies expanded their ongoing discovery collaboration for up to six additional targets, furthering a collaboration inked back in October 2017.
Per the license and option agreement, AbbVie gains an option to license worldwide exclusive rights to HPN217. Harpoon will be responsible for developing HPN217 through Phase 1/2 clinical trials. Once AbbVie exercises its option, it will be responsible all future clinical development, manufacturing and commercialization activities. AbbVie can exercise its option after completion of the Phase 1/2 clinical trial. All told, the agreement has a potential transaction value of up to $510 million in upfront, option and milestone payments, as well as royalties on global commercial sales.
Under the terms of the expanded agreement, Harpoon will give AbbVie worldwide exclusive rights to develop and commercialize two new TriTAC molecules engineered for two selected targets, and the latter company will have the option to select up to four additional targets. For each selected target under the expanded agreement, AbbVie will pay Harpoon up to $310 million in upfront and potential development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments, as well as royalties on global commercial sales. In keeping with the existing agreement, Harpoon and AbbVie will conduct certain initial research and discovery activities for each designated target, after which AbbVie will assume sole responsibility for further development and commercialization efforts.
“Harpoon has built a unique and proprietary biologics platform that utilizes the cancer patient’s own immune system to attack cancer. HPN217, targeting BCMA, is poised to advance to clinical development for the treatment of multiple myeloma,” Dr. Gerald McMahon, president and CEO of Harpoon, said in a press release. “We believe AbbVie is the ideal partner for Harpoon to support the advancement of our BCMA program, given the commercial focus of AbbVie in the treatment of this cancer. In addition, we look forward to expanding our discovery collaboration to include up to six additional molecular targets.”