AbbVie will co-develop and co-commercialize at least one and possibly more CytomX Probody™ Drug Conjugates against CD71, also known as transferrin receptor 1 (TfR1). The cancer therapy collaboration could generate up to $500 million for CytomX, the companies said today.

Probody therapeutics are designed to remain inactive until they are activated by proteases in the tumor microenvironment. As a result, according to CytomX, the therapeutics bind selectively to tumors and avoid binding to healthy tissue, thus minimizing toxicity and potentially create safer, more effective therapies.

The companies reported that CytomX has generated preclinical data showing that Probody drug conjugates can safely and effectively target tumor antigens, such as CD71, that are not addressable by conventional antibody-drug conjugates.

“We are encouraged by the promising preclinical data that CytomX has generated for their Probody drug conjugate programs to-date and look forward to working closely with their team,” Steve Davidsen, Ph.D., vp, oncology drug discovery for AbbVie. “This collaboration will enable us to expand our innovative pipeline in antibody drug conjugates and leverage our strength in that area to previously unexplored targets.”

CytomX will lead preclinical and early clinical development of the Probody drug conjugate to be developed against CD71. AbbVie will lead later development and commercialization, with the companies sharing global late-stage development costs.

AbbVie agreed to pay CytomX $30 million upfront, and up to $470 million in payments tied to achieving development, regulatory and commercial milestones. CytomX is also eligible to receive a share of U.S. profits, as well as tiered double-digit royalties on net product sales outside of the U.S.

CytomX also retains a co-promotion option in the U.S.

The deal also gives AbbVie exclusive worldwide rights to develop and commercialize Probody drug conjugates against up to two additional, undisclosed targets. Should AbbVie exercise those rights, CytomX could receive additional milestone and royalty payments per target on any resulting products, the companies said.

The collaboration with CytomX is AbbVie’s third cancer alliance announced in two days. Earlier today, the biopharma agreed to develop and commercialize argenx’s preclinical cancer immunotherapy ARGX-15 in an up-to-$685 million partnership.

Yesterday, AbbVie joined the University of Chicago in launching a collaboration intended to advance research in several areas of oncology—including, initially, breast, lung, prostate, colorectal, and hematological cancers.

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