Belgium-based ThromboGenics and Swedish firm BioInvent International entered into a license agreement with Roche for TB-403, an anticancer agent the two companies developed jointly. According to Stuart Laermer, CBO for ThromboGenics, the deal is a “license to Roche for our anti-PLGF antibody, which we call TB-403.
PLGF, or placental growth factor, is one of the growth factors that is responsible for stimulating blood vessel growth. The object is to inhibit PLGF to the effect that it will inhibit blood vessel growth around the tumors.” PLGF has a similar mechanism to VEGF, but does not appear to affect healthy tissue the way the inhibiting VEGF does.
PLGF was discovered in the laboratory of Peter Carmeliet, Ph.D., at the University of Leuven, Belgium. ThromboGenics licensed the product several years ago. “The University performed basic discovery and we took over preclinical development,” Dr. Laermer notes. “Then we chose to partner with BioInvent because we wanted to add strength with their ability to develop and add antibodies on a large scale.”
ThromboGenics and BioInvent will receive an upfront payment of Euro50 million ($77.41 million). A series of milestone payments associated with the success of the clinical development program will bring the total to Euro500 million ($774.1 million) plus what the company calls “double digit” royalties. ThromboGenics will receive 60% and BioInvent 40% of the deal revenues.
“The money will be used for the rest of our pipeline, Laermer explains. “We have other programs that are in advanced stages of clinical development, and we also have a preclinical pipeline. We have a large portfolio of products, the most advanced of which is Microplasmin, which we’re developing in visual disorders as well as cardiovascular disorders such as stroke.”
Laermer notes that the genesis of ThromboGenics began with professor Désiré Collen, now CEO and chairman of the company. “It was his laboratory that, many years ago, developed tPA or tissue plasminogen activator, which right now is the only thrombolytic agent used for stroke and licensed to Genentech. The royalties from that are what funded the operations of ThromboGenics for many years until about two years ago.”
ThromboGenics retained the option to copromote products in the Nordic, Baltic, and Benelux counties, although Laermer indicates they have several years to decide exactly how they will do that. In addition, Roche will be funding a research program for nononcology applications that will be performed at ThromboGenics’ facilities.