Hanmi Pharmaceutical and Innovent Biologics inked a global co-development and co-commercialization deal centered on a bispecific antibody for immuno-oncology applications. The candidate, which is expected to start in clinical development in 2019, will be based on a bispecific antibody technology, Pentambody™, which is being developed by Hanmi’s Beijing Hanmi Pharmaceutical subsidiary.

Under terms of the deal, Hanmi will lead development and commercialization of the antibody in territories outside China. Innovent will head manufacturing activities, along with development and commercialization in China. Financial  details were not disclosed, although the firms said they will share development costs and future profits.

“We envision this co-development as an important step in taking us closer to successful bispecific antibody development in the immuno-oncology field,” said Se-Chang Kwon, Ph.D., CEO of Hanmi Pharmaceuticals. “In furtherance of the best possible work put together by the two strong players, we hope to bring innovative therapy to help cure cancer.”

Innovent is developing an in-house and partnered pipeline of antibody candidates targeting cancer, inflammatory disorders and ophthalmology. In 2015, the firm inked an initial $456 million cancer therapeutics deal with Eli Lilly, which it expanded within 6 months to include three bispecific antibodies targeting programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1), adding another potentially $1 billion-plus in potential milestones to the Chinese biopharma.

In November 2016, Innovent raised $260 million in a Series D financing. Commenting on the latest deal with Soeul-based Hanmi, Michael Yu, Ph.D., CEO at Innovent Biologics, added, “This collaboration combines China’s best biopharmaceutical innovation with the best biopharmaceutical innovation coming out of Korea… . Innovent has previously established a PD-1-based bispecific discovery and development partnership with Eli Lilly and company and now, with Hanmi, we are driving forward in our first co-development partnership that goes beyond China.”