Aduro links up with Novartis in immuno-oncology collaboration

The companies will work together to develop and commercialize products based on Aduro's cyclic dinucleotide approach that target the STING receptor

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BERKELEY, Calif.—Aduro Biotech Inc. has launched a major collaboration with Novartis to research, develop and commercialize novel immuno-oncology products derived from Aduro's cyclic dinucleotide (CDN) approach. The focus will be on targeting the STING (Stimulator of Interferon Genes) receptor, which is known to initiate broad innate and adaptive tumor-specific immune responses when activated.
“We are extremely pleased to enter into this relationship with Novartis as their strong commitment and spirit of collaboration was evident early in our conversations,” said Stephen T. Isaacs, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Aduro. “We believe they are an ideal partner not only because of their stature as a premier healthcare company with a major focus in oncology, but also because they demonstrated a keen understanding and appreciation for our novel CDN approach, have synergistic innovation and scientific strengths and of course offer tremendous clinical and commercial expertise which we expect will broaden and accelerate the potential to bring products developed from this novel technology to patients in need.”
Per the terms of the agreement, Aduro will receive $200 million in an upfront payment, with the potential to receive up to an additional aggregate amount of $500 million if all development milestones are met. Additionally, Novartis has made an initial 2.7-percent equity investment in Aduro for $25 million, with a commitment for another $25-million investment at a later date.
This agreement covers the joint research, development and commercialization of CDN-based therapies only in the field of oncology; Aduro will maintain rights to its CDN technology in all other therapeutic areas. Aduro will be responsible for leading commercialization activities in the United States for any products that result from this collaboration, while Novartis will lead commercialization activities in all other regions. Aduro and Novartis will share profits in the United States, Japan and major European countries, and in the rest of the world, Aduro will receive a mid-teens royalty for sales.
“We are delighted to collaborate with Aduro,” Dr. Mark C. Fishman, president of the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, commented in a statement about the deal. “We believe this target is among the most exciting in oncology today, the drug candidate to be of the highest quality and the talent of our new colleagues from Aduro to be fantastic. We anticipate many clinical opportunities will be explored with the CDN approach, both directly and in combination with other agents.”
“This is a tremendous validation of our CDN technology and the preclinical data that we’ve generated in the program thus far. We look forward to collaborating with Novartis to begin a Phase 1 clinical trial with our first novel immuno-oncology candidate,” added Dr. Thomas W. Dubensky, Jr., chief scientific officer for Aduro.
CDNs, as described on Aduro's website, “are small molecules naturally expressed by bacteria and immune cells that are known to activate the STING (Stimulator of Interferon Genes) signaling pathway in immune cells. STING is known to be a central mediator of innate immune response and, when stimulated, induces the expression of various interferons, cytokines and T cell recruitment factors that amplify and strengthen immune activity.”
Aduro adds that so far in preclinical models, its CDNs “can be co-formulated with recombinant proteins to induce potent antigen-specific CD4 and CD8 T cell immune response. CDNs also show promise in combination with other cancer therapies – such as chemotherapy, radiation and monoclonal antibodies – as part of a more comprehensive approach to fighting certain cancers.”

SOURCE: Aduro press release

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