Cancer antibody therapeutics firm Innate Pharma is paying Novo Nordisk €40 million (approximately $45 million) upfront for global rights to develop and commercialize the latter’s anti-C5aR antibody (designated IPH5401). Novo Nordisk has previously carried out two Phase I studies with the antibody in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, but Innate says the antibody will represent a new therapeutic approach for immuno-oncology indications. The firm projects starting trials with IPH5401 during 2018.
Under terms of the deal, Novo Nordisk could also earn up to €370 million ($416 million) in development, regulatory, and commercial milestones, plus double-digit sales royalties. The up-front payment will comprise €2.8 million (approximately $3.2 million) in cash and €37.2 million ($41.85 million) in new Innate shares, which will increase Novo Nordisk’s stake in the French firm from 10.3% to 14.6% to 15.8%.
“We believe anti-C5aR has a high potential for cancer patients in multiple indications and look forward to beginning clinical development of this promising asset in 2018,” commented Mondher Mahjoubi, M.D., Innate Pharma’s CEO. “Innate Pharma has a strong track record of value creation from in-licensed assets with lirilumab and monalizumab. This acquisition strengthens our asset base further and supports Innate Pharma’s transition toward becoming a fully integrated biopharmaceutical company.”
Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen, Ph.S., D.Sc., CSO at Novo Nordisk, added, “In light of Innate’s success within the immuno-oncology field, we believe that Innate is the ideal partner for the anti-C5aR program, and we are looking forward to seeing the program advance further in development.”
Innate says its 10-year partnership with Novo Nordisk has already resulted in three first-in-class monoclonal antibodies that have progressed into clinical trials. Lirilumab, which targets killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptor (KIR) 2DL-1, -2, and -3, is licensed to Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) and is undergoing Phase I/II assessment as a treatment for squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN) and Phase I and II monotherapy/combination therapy studies for treating solid and hematological cancers.
In February, Innate reported that lirilumab failed to meet its primary endpoint of leukemia-free survival in the Phase II EffiKIR study as single-agent therapy in elderly patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in first complete remission.
In March, the firm reported that BMS had expanded the scope of an ongoing Phase I/II study evaluating lirilumab combined with Opdivo® (nivolumab) in patients with refractory solid tumors. The trial expansion includes evaluating Opdivo with or without lirilumab in platinum-refractory recurrent or metastatic SCCHN and initial evaluation of combination therapy using Opdivo, Yervoy® (ipilimumab), and lirilumab in solid tumors.
Monalizumab, which targets NKG2A, is being co-developed with AstraZeneca and is in Phase I/II studies for solid and hematologic tumors, both as monotherapy and in multiple combination regimens. Innate’s internal clinical-stage program IPH4102, which targets KIR3DL2, is undergoing Phase I testing as a potential therapy for cutaneous T-cell lymphomas.