Shire will use arGEN-X' entire suite of human antibody discovery technologies in a drug discovery collaboration aimed at building the biotech giant’s pipeline by finding multiple targets aligned with its areas of therapeutic focus, the companies said today.

The multi-year strategic alliance is valued at more than €15 million ($20.4 million), and comes more than two years after Shire and arGEN-X inked their initial R&D collaboration in 2012. Back then, Shire agreed to use arGEN-X’ Superior Immunodiversity with Minimal Protein Lead Engineering (SIMPLE) Antibody™ discovery platform to create human therapeutic antibodies against complex targets implicated in severe, rare genetic diseases. That deal gave Shire an option to license the most promising antibody leads for further development and commercialization worldwide, in return for fee, milestone and royalty payments.

arGEN-X said in January that it attained two preclinical milestones related to demonstration of in vivo proof of concept for one of the ongoing antibody discovery programs, triggering two undisclosed payments from Shire.

“Our arGEN-X collaboration has exceeded our expectations in delivering highly differentiated antibody programs within our therapeutic focus. The time is right to commit more significantly to the company through a longer term investment in its unique, world class technologies,” Philip J. Vickers, Ph.D., Shire’s global head of research and development, said in a statement.

In its new collaboration with arGEN-X, Shire agreed to oversee clinical development and commercialization of products, with arGEN-X having the right to license any programs not pursued by Shire into its own development pipeline.

“While we continue to see Shire as our development partner in this new alliance, we value this opportunity to bring programs into our own pipeline to further our ambitions as a clinical stage, product-focused company,” added arGEN-X CEO Tim Van Hauwermeiren.

Shire also agreed in return to pay arGEN-X €15 million ($20.4 million) upfront—consisting of €3 million ($4.08 million) cash and €12 million (about $16.35 million) in equity—as well as undisclosed amounts toward collaborative research funding; fees; payments tied to achieving clinical, regulatory and sales milestones; and single-digit royalties on therapeutic product sales.

arGEN-X’ pipeline includes two cancer compounds, both in Phase Ib trials. One is ARGX-110, a SIMPLE Antibody designed to destroy CD70-positive tumor cells, being developed to fight solid tumors and blood cancer, and a first-in-class antibody against an immunomodulatory target. The other is ARGX-111, a next-generation antibody that is a POTELLIGENT and Nhance™-enhanced antagonist of c-Met, a receptor tyrosine kinase involved in cell proliferation, angiogenesis, and metastasis in multiple solid tumors; plus several preclinical prospects.

The new collaboration with Shire is arGEN-X’ second announced in less than a week. On May 28, arGEN-X said it will apply its SIMPLE Antibody™ technology to multiple targets submitted by Bayer, in a partnership intended to discover and develop therapeutic antibodies. The value of that partnership was undisclosed.

The companies agreed to work together to validate human antibody leads in disease-relevant models, with Bayer overseeing further preclinical and clinical development and commercialization of therapeutic antibody products. Bayer agreed to pay arGEN-X an upfront technology access fee, research support and payments based on technical success-based milestones. Bayer also agreed to pay clinical, regulatory and product sales-based milestone payments as antibody programs progress through clinical development and registration.

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