Aveo Lands $477M Deal with Schering PloughS
chering-Plough Corporation gained exclusive, worldwide rights to one of Aveo Pharmaceuticals, Inc.’s preclinical-stage antibodies. The transaction could be worth more than $477 million for Aveo.
AV-299 is a highly potent antagonist of hepatocyte growth factor/scatter factor (HGF/SF), which has demonstrated excellent efficacy in preclinical models of human cancer, according to the companies.
“Oncology is a targeted strategic area for Schering-Plough,” commented Steve Galpin, Jr., vice president, financial & strategic communications, “and we are working to grow our portfolio of oncology therapies, both through internal discovery and development and through external opportunities, such as this agreement with Aveo.”
While Aveo considered many firms, Schering-Plough was the best fit. “They had the best appreciation of what we can bring to the partnership with our Human Response Prediction platform; i.e., our ability to use our models to provide unique insights to identify the most responsive tumors and the relevant responsive patient population,” stated Tuan Ha-Ngoc, Aveo’s president and CEO.
Under the terms of the license, Aveo will receive $7.5 million upfront and a $10-million equity investment. Schering-Plough will fund all research and development expenses. Aveo will have primary responsibility for clinical development of AV-299 through proof of concept in man. It will apply its Human Response Prediction platform during a multiyear translational research program to discover biomarker profiles of patients most likely to benefit from the treatment.
“We anticipate filing for IND during the first half of 2008,” said Ha-Ngoc. “With its mechanism of action targeting the HGF/c-Met pathway, we believe AV-299 has potential anti-cancer applications across a number of tumor types,” added Galpin.
Milestone payments based on the successful development and commercialization of the candidate could exceed $460 million. Upon commercialization, Aveo is eligible to receive royalties on net sales. Aveo retains the option to co-promote AV-299 in the US for certain oncology indications.
Additionally, Schering-Plough’s recognition of Aveo’s strategic desire to participate in the development and commercialization activities, “are very important for us as we continue to advance our two lead clinical programs, AV-951 and AV-412,” added Ha-Ngoc. Aveo reported that its most advanced candidate is AV-951, a novel, oral angiogenesis inhibitor that is highly potent and specific for VEGF receptors 1, 2 and 3. The company plans to file an IND and initiate phase II trials in the second quarter of 2007. AV-412 is an IND-ready, second-generation, oral EGFR/HER2 inhibitor that could potentially treat patients with solid tumors and is being evaluated in phase I.
Eisai Grows Pharma-Based Cancer Pipeline in $325M Acquisition of MorphotekE
isai Corporation of North America (ECA) enters the biologic therapeutics field with the $325-million buy out of Morphotek Inc. The addition of Morphotek’s mAb products to Eisai’s pipeline of small molecule anticancer compounds will compliment the company’s focus on oncology.
“Therapeutic antibodies hold great potential in addressing the unmet medical needs of cancer patients,” said Cathy Pollini, Eisai spokesperson. “We also believe in the synergistic benefits of monoclonal antibodies with small molecule drugs.”
Eisai’s research and development (R&D) and franchise is based on neurological illnesses, gastrointestinal disorders, and oncology. Until recently, its portfolio of marketed products reflected only its first two areas of interest: Aricept for Alzheimer’s disease, Aciphex for GERD, Zonegran and Cerebyx for epilepsy, and Fragmin for prevention of deep vein thrombosis.
Eisai’s global plan for 2006, however, put an enhanced emphasis on oncology, according to Pollini. Hence, in October 2006, the company acquired four anticancer drugs from Ligand Pharmaceuticals. These included Ontak and Targretin capsules and gel, approved for certain types of Tcell lymphoma, and Panretin indicated for the topical treatment of lesions in patients with AIDS–related Kaposi’s sarcoma.
To extend its pipeline, Eisai began to evaluate adding therapeutic mAbs to its R&D. “Eisai was originally considering a license type of agreement to gain rights to certain mAbs or mAb technologies,” according to Pollini. “Once we learned of Morphotek’s development pipeline, preclinical candidates and platform we got more interested in an acquisition.”