Aveo Oncology said today it has awarded an exclusive license to Ophthotech to investigate the potential of Aveo’s small molecule vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) tyrosine kinase inhibitor tivozanib outside of Asia as a potential treatment of non-oncologic diseases of the eye.
The deal could generate as much as $105.5 million+ for Aveo—and more importantly, could resurrect a compound less than a year after disappointing clinical results caused ex-partner Astellas Pharma to terminate a development partnership with Aveo.
In return for the license, Opthotech agreed to pay Aveo a $500,000 upfront fee. If Ophthotech decides to continue development of tivozanib, Aveo would be eligible for up to $8 million in payments tied to research, development, and business milestones.
Ophthotech also has the option to obtain additional development and commercialization rights to tivozanib and products containing tivozanib for non-oncologic eye indications outside Asia. That option is subject to results of a proof of concept clinical trial and the negotiation of a definitive license agreement.
If Ophthotech exercises that option, Aveo would receive a $2 million option exercise fee as well as up to $50 million in payments tied to clinical and regulatory-based milestones, up to $45 million in sales-based milestone payments, and royalties on product sales.
Ophthotech would be responsible for all R&D activities and costs—as well as further development and commercialization activities and costs for tivozanib ocular indications upon exercise of its option. A percentage of all upfront, milestone, and royalty payments received by Aveo are required to be paid Kyowa Hakko Kirin as a sublicensing fee.
“This agreement could enable us to realize value for tivozanib in an indication outside of cancer, while retaining oncology rights for further development through additional potential partnerships,” Tuan Ha-Ngoc, Aveo’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “We believe the unique properties of tivozanib make it an ideal VEGF inhibitor for potential ocular use, and we are encouraged by Ophthotech’s interest in exploring this potential.”
Tivozanib is an oral tyrosine kinase inhibitor of VEGF receptors 1, 2, and 3. Aveo won $125 million upfront, and stood to gain $1.3 billion in potential milestone payments, from Astellas when the companies launched their collaboration in February 2011. The companies envisioned developing tivozanib for a variety of cancer indications and marketing the drug outside Asia.
But in February, Astellas ended the partnership with Aveo, as well as an ongoing Phase II Biomarker Assessment of Tivozanib in Oncology (BATON) study in patients with colorectal cancer (CRC) effective August 11—the day tivozanib rights were returned to Aveo. CRC was one of three indications for which tivozanib struggled to win approvals.