Eisai has acquired from HUYA Bioscience International an exclusive license agreement for the anti-cancer compound HBI-8000 in Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam. The deal could generate up to $280 million-plus for HUYA, the company said today.

“The license reinforces our vision of leveraging clinical data generated within Asia using the Tripartite Cooperation Treaty to expand into other countries, such as Japan and Korea,” Mireille Gillings, Ph.D., HUYA’s president, CEO, and executive chairman said in a statement. “Eisai's global strength in oncology will help ensure the drug's path to regulatory approval.”

HBI-8000 is approved in China, where it is marketed under the name Chidamide as a treatment for T cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas. HBI-8000 has completed a Phase I trial in the U.S. in solid tumors, and is in Phase I development for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) in Japan, where the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare has granted its orphan drug designation to the compound.

HUYA said it will complete the development of HBI-8000 for NHL in Japan for commercialization by Eisai, which will hold exclusive rights to develop future indications, such as solid tumors, there and in the other territories covered by the license agreement.

In return, Eisai agreed to pay HUYA upfront and potential milestone payments totaling up to $280 million, plus royalties on net sales. HUYA agreed to manufacture and supply the product to Eisai for commercialization and other future development.

Terushige Iike, chief product creation officer for Eisai Product Creation Systems, added that the collaboration aligned with Eisai’s interest in developing cancer treatments. Oncology is one of Eisai’s two therapeutic areas of focus; the other is neuroscience.

In oncology, Eisai markets the breast cancer treatment Halaven® (eribulin) in the U.S., Europe, and Asia, including Japan. The company is also developing the multikinase inhibitor E7080 (lenvatinib) as a potential treatment for thyroid cancer and other types of solid tumors.

HBI-8000 is a member of the benzamide class of histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors designed to block the catalytic pocket of Class I HDACs. HBI-8000 is designed to inhibit cancer-associated Class I HDAC1, HDAC2, HDAC3, as well as Class IIB HDAC10 at nanomolar concentrations, while stimulating accumulation of acetylated histones H3 and H4 in tumor cells.