BUSINESS INSIGHTS

Zenas BioPharma Acquires Exclusive Worldwide Rights to Obexelimab from Xencor

Xencor, Zenas BioPharma | November 22, 2021

https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20211121005119/en/Zenas-BioPharma-Acquires-Exclusive-Worldwide-Rights-to-Obexelimab-from-Xencor
Xencor, Inc. a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing engineered monoclonal antibodies and cytokines for the treatment of cancer and autoimmune diseases, and Zenas BioPharma (“Zenas”), a global biopharmaceutical company based in the USA and China committed to the development and delivery of immune-based therapies, today announced that Zenas has acquired from Xencor exclusive worldwide rights to develop, manufacture and commercialize the investigational antibody obexelimab.

Obexelimab is a potential first-in-class bifunctional antibody that targets CD19 with its variable domain and uses Xencor's XmAb® Immune Inhibitor Fc Domain to target FcγRIIb, a receptor that inhibits the function of B-cells, which are important components in the immune system. Xencor demonstrated through early-stage clinical studies that obexelimab effectively inhibits B-cell function without depleting the cells and generates an encouraging treatment effect in patients with multiple autoimmune diseases.

Zenas is advancing a broad pipeline of differentiated drug candidates that are intended to bring best-in-class innovation to patients with underserved medical needs. Today, we are pleased to add obexelimab to our portfolio, and based on its clinical profile, we believe it is positioned as a first-in-class candidate with the potential to treat numerous autoimmune diseases.”

 Hua Mu, Ph.D., MD, president and chief executive officer at Zenas

“Obexelimab’s highly potent and broad blockade of B-cell activation—without depleting B cells—differentiates it from other B-cell targeting therapies, and it has demonstrated disease-modifying activity in settings where B-cell inhibition is a proven strategy,” said Bassil Dahiyat, Ph.D., president and chief executive officer at Xencor. “In Zenas BioPharma, we have found a partner committed to broadly and aggressively developing therapeutics like obexelimab for patients with autoimmune diseases, enabling Xencor’s continued focus on the growing opportunities provided by our XmAb bispecific antibody and cytokine pipeline.”

Under the terms of the new agreement, Zenas will issue to Xencor a warrant giving Xencor the right to acquire additional Zenas equity, such that Xencor’s total equity in Zenas would be 15% of its fully diluted capitalization following the closing of Zenas’ next round of equity financing, subject to certain requirements. Xencor previously received equity in Zenas under a separate license agreement. Xencor is also eligible to receive up to $480 million based on the achievement of certain clinical development, regulatory and commercialization milestones and is eligible to receive tiered, mid-single digit to mid-teen percent royalties upon commercialization of obexelimab, dependent on geography. Zenas will have sole responsibility for advancing the research, development, regulatory and commercial activities of obexelimab worldwide.

About Xencor, Inc.
Xencor is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing engineered monoclonal antibodies and cytokines for the treatment of cancer and autoimmune diseases. Currently, 22 candidates engineered with Xencor's XmAb® technology are in clinical development internally and with partners. Xencor's XmAb antibody engineering technology enables small changes to the structure of proteins resulting in new mechanisms of therapeutic action. 

About Zenas BioPharma
Zenas BioPharma is a global biopharmaceutical company based in the USA and China committed to becoming a leader in the development and delivery of immune-based therapies for patients in the US, China and around the world. Zenas is rapidly advancing a deep pipeline of innovative therapeutics that continues to grow through our successful business development strategy. Our experienced leadership team and network of business partners drive operational excellence to deliver potentially transformative therapies to improve the lives of those facing autoimmune and rare diseases. 

Xencor Forward-Looking Statements
Certain statements contained in this press release may constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of applicable securities laws. Forward-looking statements include statements that are not purely statements of historical fact, and can generally be identified by our use of words such as “potential,” “can,” “will,” “plan,” “may,” “could,” “would,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “seek,” “look forward,” “believe,” “committed,” “investigational,” and similar terms, or by express or implied discussions relating to the development of obexelimab as a potential treatment for patients with autoimmune diseases; the commercial potential of obexelimab; the safety, tolerability, efficacy and pharmacokinetics of obexelimab; the quotations from Xencor’s president and chief executive officer; and other statements that are not purely statements of historical fact. Such statements are made on the basis of the current beliefs, expectations, and assumptions of the management of Xencor and are subject to significant known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause actual results, performance or achievements and the timing of events to be materially different from those implied by such statements, and therefore these statements should not be read as guarantees of future performance or results. Such risks include, without limitation, the risks associated with the process of discovering, developing, manufacturing and commercializing drugs that are safe and effective for use as human therapeutics and other risks described in Xencor's public securities filings. For a discussion of these and other factors, please refer to Xencor's annual report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2020 as well as Xencor's subsequent filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. You are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date hereof. This caution is made under the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, as amended to date. All forward-looking statements are qualified in their entirety by this cautionary statement and Xencor undertakes no obligation to revise or update this press release to reflect events or circumstances after the date hereof, except as required by law.




Spotlight

As part of our Spotlight on future trends in outsourcing, we carried out a survey, which was completed by a number of CRO, Pharma & Biotecth leaders within the industry, on various aspects on outsourcing. The results of the survey can be seen in this infographic. In 2018, companies currently outsourcing less than 40% of their bioanalytical work will decrease by 14% In 2018, companies currently outsourcing more than 60% of bioanalytical work will increase by 11%.

Spotlight

As part of our Spotlight on future trends in outsourcing, we carried out a survey, which was completed by a number of CRO, Pharma & Biotecth leaders within the industry, on various aspects on outsourcing. The results of the survey can be seen in this infographic. In 2018, companies currently outsourcing less than 40% of their bioanalytical work will decrease by 14% In 2018, companies currently outsourcing more than 60% of bioanalytical work will increase by 11%.

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BUSINESS INSIGHTS

Astellas and MBC BioLabs Announce Astellas Future Innovator Prize to Help Biotech Start-ups Accelerate Early Drug Discovery and Research Efforts

Astellas Pharma Inc. | September 20, 2022

Astellas Venture Management LLC a wholly-owned venture capital subsidiary of Astellas Pharma Inc. and Mission Bay Capital BioLabs a life-science incubator, today announced their collaboration on the "Astellas Future Innovator Prize" formerly known as the Astellas Golden Ticket competition. Building on over three successful years, the competition offers entrepreneurial scientists or emerging biotechnology start-ups one year's priority usage of MBC BioLabs' state-of-the-art lab facility and access to Astellas' research and development (R&D) capabilities and business leaders. With a shared commitment to discovering and advancing innovative science for the potential future benefit of patients worldwide, AVM and MBC BioLabs are continuing their partnership to support scientists and early-stage companies to accelerate their novel therapeutic programs, modalities or platforms. The 2022 competition will prioritize innovative research that compliment Astellas' Focus Area Approach and pipeline. "We are truly thrilled to host the Astellas Future Innovator Prize again this year. Through our long-term collaboration with MBC BioLabs, we aim to create an environment that encourages innovation to thrive. The Astellas Future Innovator Prize enables us to provide biotech companies with expertise and capabilities to turn an innovative idea into a real solution, which could transform the lives of patients in need around the world." William Watt, President, AVM "We are pleased to continue our partnership with Astellas to uncover the innovators of tomorrow," said Douglas Crawford, MBC BioLabs General Manager. "The past winners of the Astellas Future Innovator Prize show what can be achieved by combining Astellas' support, advice and expertise with our laboratory incubator, and we are excited to see the result of our ongoing collaboration." Entrepreneurial scientists, emerging life-science and biotechnology start-ups have until November 4, 2022 to enter the Astellas Future Innovator Prize. About the Astellas Future Innovator Prize at MBC BioLabs Astellas is offering up to two prizes for pioneering scientists with innovative research that complements Astellas' areas of interest in alignment with its Focus Area Approach and pipeline, including Blindness & Regeneration, Mitochondria, Genetic Regulation, Immuno-Oncology, Cell Therapy, and other areas. The 2021 Astellas Future Innovator Prize winners were Vcreate and Weatherwax Biotechnologies, chosen for the potential of their innovations to deliver therapeutic advances for unmet medical needs and their potential synergy with Astellas' Focus Area Approach. About Astellas Venture Management LLC AVM is the wholly-owned venture capital organization within Astellas, dedicated to supporting pre-clinical, cutting-edge science that can bring VALUE to patients. For over 15 years, AVM has provided equity investments to private, early-stage companies developing therapeutic programs and platform technologies, helping them to advance their innovations faster. AVM is a strategic investor, making investments in science that will enhance the current Astellas R&D pipeline or that could catalyze new directions in discovery research. About Astellas Astellas Pharma Inc. is a pharmaceutical company conducting business in more than 70 countries around the world. We are promoting the Focus Area Approach that is designed to identify opportunities for the continuous creation of new drugs to address diseases with high unmet medical needs by focusing on Biology and Modality. Furthermore, we are also looking beyond our foundational Rx focus to create Rx+® healthcare solutions that combine our expertise and knowledge with cutting-edge technology in different fields of external partners. Through these efforts, Astellas stands on the forefront of healthcare change to turn innovative science into value for patients. About MBC BioLabs MBC BioLabs is dedicated to helping life-science startups succeed. By renting space as small as a single bench and providing these entrepreneurial scientists with access to millions of dollars of equipment, MBC BioLabs allows companies to be fast, focused, and frugal. It has three sites: one in the Dogpatch neighborhood in San Francisco and two campuses in San Carlos, California. Each site has a complete molecular biology core facility that allows companies to do experiments on day one. MBC BioLabs has partnerships with leading pharmaceutical and life-science companies as well as a built-in venture capital firm, Mission BioCapital. These partnerships provide entrepreneurs with valuable insights about where to focus their efforts and accelerates the innovation pipeline. Since opening in 2013, MBC BioLabs has helped launch and grow 290 companies. These companies have brought 58 programs to the clinic, produced 13 approved diagnostics, and raised over $14 billion.

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PHARMACY MARKET

Jacobio Pharma to Collaborate with Merck on Clinical Trial of JAB-21822 in Combination with Cetuximab

Jacobio Pharma | October 13, 2022

Jaco Jacobio announced it has entered into a clinical trial collaboration agreement with Merck on clinical study of combination therapy between Jacobio's KRAS G12C inhibitor JAB-21822 and Merck's epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitor Erbitux®. This clinical study aims to evaluate the efficacy of JAB-21822 in combination with cetuximab in patients with KRAS G12C-mutated colorectal cancer. Jacobio is the sponsor of the combination study, and Merck will provide cetuximab for clinical trials in China and Europe under the collaboration agreement. "Our preclinical studies have shown that the combination of JAB-21822 and cetuximab can enhance the anti-tumor activity of JAB-21822 inhibitors in colorectal cancer tumor models, regressing tumors and delaying tumor regrowth after drug discontinuation. We look forward to new treatment options for patients through our collaboration with Merck," Dr. WANG Yinxiang, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Jacobio About JAB-21822 JAB-21822 is a KRAS G12C inhibitor independently developed by Jacobio. Jacobio has initiated a number of Phase I/II clinical trials in China, the United States and Europe for patients with advanced solid tumors, including monotherapy for STK11 co-mutated non-small cell lung cancer first-line treatment; combination therapy with SHP2 inhibitor, PD-1 monoclonal antibody and cetuximab. About ERBITUX®. ERBITUX is an IgG1 monoclonal antibody targeting the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). As a monoclonal antibody, the mode of action of ERBITUX is distinct from standard non-selective chemotherapy treatments in that it specifically targets and binds to the EGFR. This binding inhibits the activation of the receptor and the subsequent signal-transduction pathway, which results in reducing both the invasion of normal tissues by tumor cells and the spread of tumors to new sites. It is also believed to inhibit the ability of tumor cells to repair the damage caused by chemotherapy and radiotherapy and to inhibit the formation of new blood vessels inside tumors, which appears to lead to an overall suppression of tumor growth. Based on in vitro evidence, ERBITUX also targets cytotoxic immune effector cells towards EGFR-expressing tumor cells. ERBITUX has obtained market authorization in over 100 countries worldwide for the treatment of RAS wild-type metastatic colorectal cancer and for the treatment of squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck. Merck licensed the right to market ERBITUX, a registered trademark of ImClone LLC, outside the U.S. and Canada from ImClone LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Eli Lilly and Company, in 1998. About Jacobio Jacobio Pharma is committed to developing and providing new and innovative products and solutions to improve people's health. Our pipeline revolves around novel molecular targets on six major signalling pathways: KRAS, immune checkpoints, tumor metabolism, P53, RB and MYC. We aim for our key projects to be among the top three in the world. Our vision is to become a global leader recognized for our impact in drug R&D together with our partners. Jacobio has R&D centers in Beijing, Shanghai and Boston with our Induced Allosteric Drug Discovery Platform (IADDP) and our iADC Platform.

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BUSINESS INSIGHTS

Novo Nordisk to acquire Forma Therapeutics and expand presence in sickle cell disease and rare blood disorders

Novo Nordisk | September 02, 2022

Novo Nordisk and Forma Therapeutics, Holdings Inc. announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Novo Nordisk will acquire Forma Therapeutics for $20 per share in cash, which represents a total equity value of $1.1 billion. Forma Therapeutics is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on transforming the lives of patients with sickle cell disease (SCD) and rare blood disorders. The acquisition of Forma Therapeutics, including its lead development candidate, etavopivat, is aligned with Novo Nordisk’s strategy to complement and accelerate its scientific presence and pipeline in hemoglobinopathies, a group of disorders in which there is abnormal production or structure of the hemoglobin protein in the red blood cells. “Novo Nordisk has worked for more than 40 years to develop and deliver transformative medicines to patients around the world with rare and devastating diseases. By adding Forma’s differentiated approach to address unmet needs for patients, we are taking a step forward in enhancing our sickle cell disease pipeline,” said Ludovic Helfgott, executive vice president and head of Rare Disease at Novo Nordisk. “We have an ambition to build a leading portfolio with standalone and combination treatments to tackle the complications and underlying causes of sickle cell disease.” Etavopivat, an investigational oral, once-daily, selective pyruvate kinase-R (PKR) activator, is being developed to improve anemia and red blood cell health in people with SCD, a seriously debilitating, life-threatening and life shortening disease. Etavopivat is currently being evaluated in a global phase 2/3 clinical trial (Hibiscus) in patients with SCD, and in a phase 2 trial (Gladiolus) in patients with transfusion-dependent SCD and another inherited hemoglobinopathy called thalassemia. “Today’s announcement is an exciting milestone that accelerates Forma’s purpose to transform the lives of patients with sickle cell disease and other serious hematological diseases,” said Frank D. Lee, president and chief executive officer of Forma. “Novo Nordisk will partner closely with the sickle cell community to amplify our impact for patients around the world who urgently need new treatment options. We look forward to working together with Novo Nordisk to serve as a trusted partner to our communities and to advance innovation, access and health equity for patients.” The transaction will not impact Novo Nordisk’s previously communicated operating profit outlook for 2022 or the ongoing share buy-back program. Novo Nordisk will fund the acquisition from financial reserves. About the transaction Under the terms of the agreement, Novo Nordisk will initiate a tender offer to acquire all outstanding shares of Forma Therapeutics’ common stock at a price of $20 per share in cash (or aggregated value of $1.1 billion) and a premium of 92% to Forma Therapeutics’ volume-weighted average price per share over the past 30 days ended August 31, 2022. The transaction has been unanimously approved by the Forma Therapeutics Board of Directors. The closing of the tender offer will be subject to certain conditions, including the tender of shares representing a majority of Forma Therapeutics’ outstanding shares, receipt of applicable regulatory approvals and other customary conditions. Upon the successful completion of the tender offer, Novo Nordisk’s acquisition subsidiary will merge into Forma Therapeutics, and any shares of common stock of Forma Therapeutics not tendered into the offer will receive the same USD per share price payable in the tender offer. The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2022. In addition, certain affiliates of RA Capital Management, L.P., which collectively own approximately 19% of Forma Therapeutics’ outstanding shares, have entered into a support agreement pursuant to which they committed to tender their shares in the tender offer. Novo Nordisk is represented by Moelis & Company UK LLP as financial advisor and Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP as legal advisor. Forma Therapeutics is represented by Centerview Partners LLC as financial advisor and Goodwin Procter LLP as legal advisor. About sickle cell disease Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a chronic and progressive inherited disorder associated with a decrease in the health and lifespan of red blood cells. People living with SCD have red blood cells that are crescent shaped, rendering them inflexible, fragile, and unable to effectively deliver oxygen. The health of these sickle red blood cells is impaired and characterized by reduced cellular energy, poor deformability, decreased membrane repair, and increased adhesion. Around 17 million people worldwide live with SCD, including approximately 100,000 people in the United States, as well as approximately 30,000 in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom. SCD can cause serious health problems, including anemia, fatigue, episodes of pain known as vaso-occlusive crises (VOCs), and chronic, progressive end-organ damage. Despite recent advances in treatment, most patients with SCD still suffer from pain crises, lifelong disability, reduced quality of life, and shortened life expectancy. About etavopivat Etavopivat is an investigational, once-daily, selective pyruvate kinase-R (PKR) activator designed to be a disease-modifying therapy with the potential to improve red blood cell health and transform the lives of people living with SCD. Employing a multimodal approach, etavopivat works by activating the red blood cell’s natural PKR activity to decrease levels of the metabolite 2,3-DPG, allowing sickle hemoglobin to hold on to oxygen longer, resulting in decreased polymerization, hemolysis, and sickling. Etavopivat-mediated PKR activation also increases adenosine triphosphate (ATP) levels, to improve red blood cell function, which can lead to improved deformability, capacity for membrane repair, red blood cell health, and lifespan. Together, these effects are anticipated to improve the health of sickle red blood cell and lead to a reduction in anemia, hemolysis, vaso-occlusive crises, and end organ damage. In a phase 1 trial, etavopivat improved anemia and red blood cell health and appeared to have a safe and well-tolerated profile, demonstrating a potential to improve the lives of patients with SCD, including increases in hemoglobin, improvements in red blood cell health, and decreases in vaso-occlusive crises (VOCs). The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted etavopivat Fast Track, Rare Pediatric Disease and Orphan Drug designations. Additionally, etavopivat was granted Orphan Drug designation from the European Commission based on a positive opinion from the Committee for Orphan Medicinal Products of the European Medicines Agency for the treatment of patients with SCD. About Forma Therapeutics Forma Therapeutics is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the research, development and commercialization of novel therapeutics to transform the lives of patients with rare hematologic diseases and cancers. Forma Therapeutics R&D engine combines deep biology insight, chemistry expertise and clinical development capabilities to create drug candidates with differentiated mechanisms of action focused on indications with high unmet need. Our work has generated a broad proprietary portfolio of programs with the potential to provide profound patient benefit. About Novo Nordisk Novo Nordisk is a leading global healthcare company, founded in 1923 and headquartered in Denmark. Our purpose is to drive change to defeat diabetes and other serious chronic diseases such as obesity and rare blood and endocrine disorders. We do so by pioneering scientific breakthroughs, expanding access to our medicines, and working to prevent and ultimately cure disease. Novo Nordisk employs about 50,800 people in 80 countries and markets its products in around 170 countries.

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