Lycera, a U.S.-based privately held biopharmaceutical company developing breakthrough immune modulatory medicines, has formed an exclusive global collaboration with Celgene to take forward Lycera's proprietary pipeline for cancer and immune-mediated diseases.
Lycera has discovered selective and potent oral agonists that target RORgamma, a master control switch of immune system activation, for the potential treatment of a broad range of cancers. Lycera has developed orally bioavailable RORgamma agonists that have demonstrated single agent therapeutic activity in multiple animal models of cancer. Ex vivo treatment with RORgamma agonist compounds has been shown to enhance the therapeutic benefit of adoptive T-cell therapy by improving both immune cell persistence and activation.
The collaboration with Celgene also will focus on the continued clinical development of Lycera's lead program, LYC-30937, an oral gut-directed ATPase modulator currently in phase I clinical studies. Development of LYC-30937 is focused on the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), with the goal of delivering significant disease improvement without global immune suppression. Lycera also will continue to advance their other programs including a Rho-associated protein kinase 2 (ROCK2) inhibitor.
Lycera receives an $82.5 million upfront cash payment. The upfront payment includes an exclusive option for Celgene to license Lycera's portfolio of ex vivo RORgamma agonist compounds. Lycera has the potential to receive near term payments of an additional $22.5 million associated with the ex vivo licensing option rights. Celgene obtains the exclusive right to acquire Lycera upon conclusion of the option period or achievement by Lycera of pre-specified clinical milestones. During the option period, Lycera will retain full control of its R&D programs. Following the exercise of the option to acquire Lycera, shareholders also will be eligible to receive future success-based milestones.