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GEN News Highlights : Mar 5, 2012

Agenus Expands QS-21 Adjuvant License with GSK for $9M

GSK also received right of first negotiation to buy Agenus or some of its assets.

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is paying Agenus $9 million to include additional rights to the firms’ existing agreement to use Agenus’ QS-21 Stimulon® adjuvant. Besides amending their license and manufacturing terms, Agenus has granted GSK the first right to negotiate for the purchase of Agenus or certain of its assets. The first right to negotiate will expire after five years.

The $9 million is a nonrefundable payment of which $2.5 million is creditable against future manufacturing technology transfer royalty payments. The agreement also includes royalty payments for an undisclosed indication upon commercialization of a vaccine product.

QS-21 Stimulon is designed to strengthen the body's immune response to a vaccine's antigen. QS-21 is being studied in clinical trials for 15 vaccine programs, according to Agenus. It is reportedly being used in the development of vaccine formulations across a variety of prophylactic and therapeutic vaccines.

Development programs with QS-21 include GSK's Phase III programs RTS,S for malaria, MAGE-A3 immunotherapeutics for resected melanoma and resected non-small-cell lung cancer, and Herpes Zoster for shingles, as well as GSK’s Phase II ACC-001 for Alzheimer disease. Agenus’ pipeline includes Phase II Prophage Series G-100 for newly diagnosed glioma, Prophage Series G-200 for recurrent glioma, and HerpV for genital herpes.

Licensees of QS-21 include GSK, Janssen Alzheimer Immunotherapy, and Integrated Biotherapeutics. Agenus is generally entitled to receive milestone payments as QS-21-containing programs advance as well as royalties on sales of products.