Servier will partner with Pieris Pharmaceuticals to co-develop Pieris’ preclinical dual-checkpoint inhibitor PRS-332 and up to seven other immuno-oncology bispecific drug candidates in a collaboration that could generate up to €1.7 billion ($1.8 billion) for Pieris.

Pieris and Servier have agreed to initially pursue five bispecific therapeutic programs led by PRS-332, a potentially best-in-class programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1)-targeting bispecific checkpoint inhibitor.

PRS-332 consists of an anti-PD-1 antibody genetically linked to an Anticalin® protein—based on Pieris’ proprietary platform of the same name—targeting an undisclosed checkpoint target. Now in preclinical development, PRS-332 is designed to simultaneously block two immune checkpoints co-expressed on exhausted T cells to further improve on existing PD-1 therapies.

Pieris’ multispecific technology allows simultaneous checkpoint inhibition on the same cell, which the company reasons could have a clear advantage over monoclonal antibody cocktails against different checkpoint targets.

Pieris and Servier said they will jointly develop PRS-332 and split commercial rights geographically, with Pieris retaining all U.S. commercial rights and Servier having commercial rights elsewhere in the world.

The four other initial programs have been defined as immuno-oncology bispecific drug candidates that may combine antibodies from the Servier portfolio with one or more Anticalin proteins.

“The versatility of our platform allows for extensive combinatorial target opportunities with the numerous I-O ‘building blocks’ our team has discovered to date,” Louis Matis, M.D., Ph.D., Pieris svp and CDO, said in a statement.

Servier and Pieris also agreed to allow for expansion of their collaboration by up to three additional therapeutic programs. Pieris holds the option to co-develop and retain U.S. commercial rights for up to three programs beyond PRS-332, with Servier overseeing worldwide development and commercialization of the four other programs.

Pieris and Servier said they will share preclinical and clinical development costs for each co-developed program.

Servier agreed to pay €30 milion (about $31.3 million) upfront to Pieris, which may also receive full-time equivalent (FTE) funding for specific projects, an undisclosed option fee upon potential expansion of the collaboration, as well as development and commercial milestone payments for PRS-332 and each additional program.

Total development, regulatory, and sales-based milestone payments from Servier to Pieris could reach €324 million (approximately $338 million) for PRS-332 and up to €193 million (approximately $201 million) for each of the other programs.

In addition, Pieris will be entitled to receive tiered royalties up to low double digits on the sales of commercialized products in territories overseen by Servier.

“This alliance will significantly enhance Servier’s portfolio in immuno-oncology, which already comprises five products in late preclinical or early development,” added Jean-Pierre Abastado, Ph.D., Servier’s director of oncology R&D.

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