Daiichi Sankyo and AgonOx will partner to develop an immuno-oncology target, the companies said today, through a collaboration whose target and value were both not disclosed.

Daiichi Sankyo and AgonOx agreed to team up on preclinical development of the program. Following preclinical assessment, the companies said, Daiichi Sankyo has an exclusive option to research, develop, manufacture, and commercialize the program worldwide.

“While this collaboration will help strengthen our immuno-oncology capabilities, it also aligns with our overall mission of discovering and delivering science that can change the standard of care for patients with cancer,” Antoine Yver, M.D., M.Sc., Daiichi Sankyo evp and global head, oncology R&D, said in a statement.

Any new products to be developed with AgonOx will join a Daiichi Sankyo cancer pipeline that now includes more than 20 small molecules and monoclonal antibodies with novel targets in both solid and hematological cancers.

That pipeline, dubbed the Daiichi Sankyo Cancer Enterprise, has three Phase III candidates:

  • Quizartinib, an oral FLT3-ITD inhibitor, for newly diagnosed and relapsed/refractory FLT3-ITD+ acute myeloid leukemia.
  • Tivantinib, an oral MET inhibitor, for second-line treatment of MET-high hepatocellular carcinoma in partnership with ArQule. 
  • Pexidartinib, an oral colony-stimulating factor 1 receptor (CSF-1R) inhibitor, for tenosynovial giant cell tumor, also known as pigmented villonodular synovitis, and giant cell tumor of the tendon sheath. Pexidartinib is also under study in combination with Merck & Co.’s Keytruda® (pembrolizumab) in solid tumors.

Privately held AgonOx, based in Parsippany, NJ, focuses on developing a pipeline of novel immunotherapy drugs targeting key regulators of the immune response to cancer.

According to its website, AgonOx is “in the process of identifying new immunotherapy targets by understanding the complexity of human tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL) isolated from several different tumor types.” The company said it has evaluated more than 100 tumor specimens obtained from surgeries under a partnership with the Earl A. Chiles Research Institute at the Providence Cancer Center.

The company has licensed its OX40 agonist program to MedImmune, AstraZeneca’s global biologics arm, for development.

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