Bayer HealthCare will team up with Compugen on preclinical research toward antibody-based cancer immunotherapies against two potential immune checkpoint targets discovered by Compugen, with Bayer exercising full control over further development and holding worldwide commercialization rights for any resulting cancer therapeutics. The deal could generate more than $540 million for Compugen.

Under a collaboration and license agreement, Bayer agreed to pay Compugen $10 million up front, with up to $30 million in payments tied to preclinical milestones. Compugen is also eligible to receive over $500 million in potential payments tied to additional undisclosed milestones for both programs. The company may also receive mid- to high-single-digit royalties on global net sales of any resulting products under the collaboration.

“Immunotherapy is one of our focus areas in oncology research. We are looking forward to expanding our portfolio in this area through partnering with Compugen,” Prof. Andreas Busch, member of the Bayer HealthCare executive committee and head of global drug discovery, said in a statement.

Compugen said its researchers are developing specific therapeutic antibodies designed to fight cancer by blocking the function of immune checkpoint regulators, which may play a key role in immunosuppression, as well as reactivating the anti-tumor immune response of patients.

The Bayer collaboration is designed to expand Compugen’s product pipeline, which according to the company’s website includes 10 therapeutic protein and peptide product candidates and four monoclonal antibody (mAb) drug candidates against Compugen-discovered targets in oncology and immunology. Compugen has identified targets for the mAbs through its Antibody Therapeutic Targets Discovery Platform and Protein Family Members Discovery Platform.

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