Innate Pharma has picked up full rights to the anti-NKG2A antibody, an immune checkpoint inhibitor from Novo Nordisk said to be ready for Phase II development in oncology. Per the agreement, Novo Nordisk will receive €2 million ($2.72 million) in cash and 600,000 shares for licensing the humanized IgG4 antibody to Innate and could potentially receive €20 million ($27.2 million) in registration milestones and royalties on future sales. 

NKG2A is a checkpoint receptor that inhibits anticancer functions of cytotoxic natural killer (NK) and T lymphocytes, and anti-NKG2A (IPH2201) can potentially re-establish an antitumour response mediated by NK and T cells. Anti-NKG2A is the third therapeutic antibody generated in a partnership inked between Novo Nordisk and Innate Pharma back in 2006 focused on developing new drugs targeting NK.

Novo Nordisk says it conducted a Phase I trial with anti-NKG2A in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, where the mAb demonstrated a good safety profile for both iv and sc routes at both single and multiple administrations. The firm says it is planning to advance other compounds for further development in inflammation.

“We look forward to now taking [anti-NKG2A] forward in cancer indications where there is a great need for better treatments and where drugs of this type have shown tremendous benefit in recent years,” Innate Pharma’s CSO Nicolaï Wagtmann said in a statement.

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