Flurry Of Cancer Pacts | January 2, 2012 Issue - Vol. 90 Issue 1 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 90 Issue 1 | p. 11 | News of The Week
Issue Date: January 2, 2012

Flurry Of Cancer Pacts

Takeda, Merck & Co., Eli Lilly & Co., AstraZeneca move to gain access to oncology drug candidates.
Department: Business | Collection: Life Sciences
Keywords: drug development, cancer, biotechnology

The year 2011 ended with multiple acquisitions and research partnerships through which the drug majors Takeda Pharmaceutical, Merck & Co., Eli Lilly & Co., and AstraZeneca gain access to compounds that biotech firms are developing for the treatment of cancer.

Takeda announced that it will acquire Intellikine, a California-based small-molecule drug discovery firm that is developing two new compounds that target the cancer-connected PI3 kinase/mTOR pathway. The Japanese firm will pay $190 million up front and up to $120 million in milestone payments.

In a deal aimed at the same pathway, Merck and Exelixis signed a licensing agreement under which Merck will pay $12 million up front for worldwide rights to Exelixis’ PI3K-delta R&D program, including XL499, its most advanced preclinical PI3K-delta inhibitor. Exelixis is eligible for up to $239 million in milestone payments.

Lilly, meanwhile, will obtain exclusive licenses to ImmunoGen technology allowing Lilly to develop antibody-drug conjugates that link its own monoclonal antibodies with cytotoxic maytansinoids. Lilly will pay $20 million up front, with downstream payments of up to $200 million.

And AstraZeneca signed a pact with China’s Hutchison MediPharma, a subsidiary of Chi-Med, to develop volitinib, an inhibitor of the c-Met receptor tyrosine kinase. The U.K. drug company will pay $20 million up front and potential milestone payments totaling $120 million.

For AstraZeneca, the agreement with Hutchison follows an acknowledgment that its investigational compound olaparib will not progress to Phase II development for treatment of serous ovarian cancer. The setback will result in a pretax charge of $285 million.

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