Aduro BioTech said today its five-month collaboration with Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Biotech unit to develop new treatments based on its LADD immunotherapy platform has expanded into lung cancer. The expansion raises J&J’s bet on LADD-based immunotherapies by up to $817 million, propelling what Aduro could generate from Janssen past $1 billion.
Aduro said it granted Janssen an exclusive worldwide license to develop and commercialize LADD product candidates in lung cancer. Janssen agreed to assume responsibility for all research, development, manufacturing, regulatory and commercialization activities for the licensed products.
In return, Aduro will receive a $30 million upfront payment from Janssen, and is eligible to receive up to a total of $817 million in payments tied to development, regulatory and commercialization milestones. Aduro said it could receive even more from Janssen if it is called upon by the J&J unit to assist in R&D, manufacturing, regulatory and commercialization support activities. The agreement was facilitated by the Johnson & Johnson Innovation Center.
Janssen agreed to pay Aduro up to $365 million—covering upfront, milestone, and royalty payments—in the companies’ initial collaboration to develop new LADD-based treatments for prostate cancer, launched in May. The deal is subject to clearance by the US antitrust authorities under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act and will become final as soon as such clearance has occurred.
The LADD platform consists of live-attenuated double-deleted—hence the name—Listeria monocytogenes strains engineered to induce a potent innate immune response as well as to express tumor-associated antigens to induce tumor-specific T cell-mediated immunity.
As with the companies’ May agreement, the new licensing deal was also facilitated by J&J’s Innovation Center in California.
“Since our initial agreement with Janssen in May of this year for new immunotherapies for prostate cancer, they have been terrific partners and we’ve established a strong collaboration focused on advancing our technologies forward in their licensed indications,” Stephen T. Isaacs, Aduro’s chairman, president and CEO, said in a statement.
Isaacs added that Aduro “continues to make progress” with immunotherapy platforms in other oncology indications that include pancreatic cancer, mesothelioma, and glioblastoma. Aduro’s other platforms are:
- GVAX, designed for combination therapies and based on a portfolio of irradiated tumor cell lines engineered to recruit immune cells by expressing the immune cell recruitment factor GM-CSF.
- Modified versions of Cyclic Dinucleotides (CDNs), naturally-occurring molecules that target the intracellular STING receptor, a central mediator of innate immunity. CDNs have application in oncology and infectious disease treatments, according to Aduro.
J&J’s venture financing arm Johnson & Johnson Development Corp. joined as a new investor when Aduro closed in June on a $55 million series C financing, raising its fundraising to a total $84 million since inception. That funding in part is intended for the Phase IIb ECLIPSE trial assessing the company’s lead program, an immunotherapy regimen combining Listeria-based vaccine candidate CRS-207 and GVAX Pancreas in patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer who have failed at least one therapy.