Roivant’s Latest “Vant” Launches $1B+ TCR Immunotherapy Partnership with Medigene

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Roivant Sciences has partnered with one of its 15 spinout companies or “vants” to launch the 16th—a biopharma that immediately inked a potentially $1 billion-plus multi-program collaboration with Medigene to develop T-cell receptor (TCR) immunotherapies. Medigene illustrated its TCR manufacturing process in a presentation to analysts during its March 27 conference call to discuss fourth-quarter and full-year 2018 results. [Medigene]

Roivant Sciences has partnered with one of its 15 spinout companies or “vants” to launch the 16th—a biopharma that immediately inked a potentially $1 billion-plus multi-program collaboration with Medigene to develop T-cell immunotherapies.

The new company, Cytovant Sciences, has been created by Roivant and spinout Sinovant Sciences to develop and commercialize cellular therapeutics in Asia that are deemed to potentially transform the treatment of diseases that are prevalent in Asian patients.

Cytovant has been granted exclusive licenses to develop, manufacture, and commercialize Medigene’s research-stage T-cell immunotherapy targeting the cancer-testis antigen New York esophageal squamous cell carcinoma 1 (NY-ESO-1), as well as a dendritic cell vaccine targeting Wilms Tumor-1 (WT-1) and Preferentially expressed Antigen in Melanoma (PRAME) antigens in Greater China, South Korea, and Japan, the companies said.

Cytovant and Medigene have also launched a strategic collaboration and discovery agreement for T-cell receptor (TCR) immunotherapies for two additional targets. Medigene agreed to oversee the generation and delivery of the TCR constructs using its proprietary TCR discovery and isolation platform.

At the end of the companies’ research collaboration period, Cytovant agreed to assume sole responsibility for developing and commercializing the TCR therapies in the countries covered by the agreement. TCRs to be generated by Medigene will be tailored specifically to Asian patients, Roivant and Sinovant said.

“The complexities of end-to-end cell therapy manufacturing, development, and commercialization in Asia require regional focus, specialization, and knowledge. Roivant and Sinovant have built Cytovant precisely to address these scientific and logistical complexities,” stated Benjamin Zimmer, president of Roivant Health, a “vant” focused on launching companies that bring innovative medicines to emerging markets and improve the process of developing and commercializing new medicines through the application of technology.

Implementing Medigene strategy

Cytovant agreed to pay Medigene $10 million upfront and potentially more than $1 billion in payments tied to achieving development, regulatory, and commercial milestones for all four products covered by the companies’ agreement, across multiple indications.

Medigene is also eligible to receive low double-digit percentage royalty payments on net sales of the products in the countries covered by the agreement. Cytovant also agreed to reimburse Medigene for all R&D costs it incurs during the collaboration.

“This partnership implements Medigene’s strategy to discover TCRs with various HLA [human leukocyte antigen] specificities in order to address different populations and markets,” Dolores Schendel, PhD, CEO/CSO of Medigene, said in a statement. “Cytovant, with its highly experienced management and scientific team was launched by Sinovant and Roivant to achieve excellence in cell therapies and we are proud to be part of this story of delivering various TCR projects as well as our DC vaccine for development in East Asia.”

Roivant and Sinovant also announced that John Xu, PhD, a molecular immunologist and translational scientist, has joined Cytovant and will serve as the company’s president. Previously, he was president and CSO of Mab-Legend Biotech, a Shanghai-based antibody discovery company. Earlier, he served as CSO of Shanghai Benemae Pharmaceutical and head of the biologics group at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) China.

“The launch of Cytovant represents an important milestone in Sinovant’s evolution as a platform for entrepreneurs like John and we look forward to building Cytovant with him,” added Xinan Chen, MD, MPH, executive chairman of Sinovant.

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