Pieris Pharmaceuticals, a clinical-stage biotechnology company advancing novel biotherapeutics through its proprietary Anticalin technology platform, and Servier, an independent international pharmaceutical company, have announced a broad collaboration in immuno-oncology (IO). Despite the impressive clinical efficacy of checkpoint inhibitors to date, a majority of patients fail to respond to approved therapies. The collaboration seeks to address this significant unmet clinical need by advancing a series of novel molecules, including multiple dual immune checkpoint blockade approaches.
Under the collaboration, Pieris and Servier will initially pursue five bispecific therapeutic programs, led by Pieris' PRS-332 program, a potentially best-in-class PD-1-targeting bispecific checkpoint inhibitor. Pieris and Servier will jointly develop PRS-332 and split commercial rights geographically, with Pieris retaining all commercial rights in the U.S. and Servier having commercial rights in the rest of the world. The four additional committed programs have been defined, which may combine antibodies from the Servier portfolio with one or more Anticalin proteins based on Pieris' proprietary platform to generate innovative immuno-oncology bispecific drug candidates. The collaboration may be expanded by up to three additional therapeutic programs. Pieris has the option, at a predefined time point, to co-develop and retain commercial rights in the U.S. for up to three programs beyond PRS-332, while Servier will be responsible for development and commercialization of the 4 other programs worldwide.
The financial terms of the collaboration include an upfront payment to Pieris of EUR30 million (approximately $31.3 million). Pieris may also receive FTE funding for specific projects, an option fee upon potential expansion of the collaboration as well as development-dependent and commercial milestone payments for PRS-332 and each additional program. The total development, regulatory and sales-based milestone payments to Pieris could reach EUR324 million (approximately $338 million) for PRS-332, and up to EUR193 million (approximately $201 million) for each of the other programs. Pieris and Servier will share preclinical and clinical development costs for each co-developed program. In addition, Pieris will be entitled to receive tiered royalties up to low double digits on the sales of commercialized products in the Servier territories.
Pieris' multispecific technology allows simultaneous checkpoint inhibition on the same cell, which could have a clear advantage over monoclonal antibody cocktails against different checkpoint targets. PRS-332 is a novel PD-1-based bispecific, comprising an anti-PD-1 antibody genetically linked to an Anticalin protein targeting an undisclosed checkpoint target. Pieris has developed PRS-332, which is currently in preclinical development, with the intent to simultaneously block two immune checkpoints co-expressed on exhausted T cells to further improve on existing PD-1 therapies.
"Servier is a highly complementary partner for Pieris, with a very clear commitment to oncology and outstanding development capabilities," stated Dr. Louis Matis, senior vice president and chief development officer of Pieris. "The synergies of building unique bispecifics from Servier's antibodies and Pieris' Anticalin proteins are multifold, as the versatility of our platform allows for extensive combinatorial target opportunities with the numerous IO 'building blocks' our team has discovered to date."
"This alliance will significantly enhance Servier's portfolio in immuno-oncology, which already comprises 5 products in late preclinical or early development. Servier's recognized expertise in drug development will efficiently complement Pieris' innovative technology, allowing both companies to bring innovative solutions to cancer patients," stated Jean-Pierre Abastado, Ph.D., director of Oncology R&D at Servier.
"Servier has built a diversified and innovative portfolio in oncology that includes small molecules, engineered antibodies, and cell therapies for the treatment of both hematological malignancies and solid tumors. Today's alliance with Pieris adds another dimension to our strategy of becoming a key player in oncology, providing several next-generation bispecific IO drugs to our pipeline," added Emmanuel Canet, M.D., Ph.D., president of Servier R&D.
"Our alliance with Servier is clearly a transformative one for Pieris and is the type of partnership we deliberately set out to achieve to create significant long-term value. This collaboration provides not only an opportunity to advance multiple programs with retained rights in the number one oncology market, but also provides significant funding and flexibility for Pieris to balance financial and operational resources as we enter the next stage of corporate development," stated Stephen Yoder, president and chief executive officer of Pieris. "The Servier alliance will act as a significant building block of our pipeline expansion in immuno-oncology and demonstrates the value of our proprietary Anticalin drug class."