Incyte, a Wilmington, Del.-based biopharmaceutical company, and Agenus, an immuno-oncology company based in Lexington, Mass., have formed a global license, development and commercialization agreement focused on novel immuno-therapeutics using Agenus' proprietary Retrocyte Display antibody discovery platform.
The alliance will initially focus on the development of checkpoint modulator antibodies directed against GITR, OX40, LAG-3 and TIM-3. Agenus and Incyte will share all costs and profits for the GITR and OX40 antibody programs on a 50:50 basis, with Agenus eligible for potential milestones; TIM-3 and LAG-3 are royalty-bearing programs to be funded by Incyte, with Agenus eligible for potential milestones and royalties. The first clinical trials are expected to be initiated in 2016.
"This alliance with Agenus adds therapeutic antibody capabilities to our proven small molecule discovery expertise, significantly expands the landscape of potential immuno-oncology targets available to us and strengthens our ability to identify and advance novel therapeutic combinations," said Hervé Hoppenot, president and CEO of Incyte.
"Incyte's track record of success in oncology development and commercialization, together with our therapeutic antibody expertise and the commonality of our objectives, speak to the compelling strategic rationale for this alliance," said Garo H. Armen, Ph.D., chairman and CEO of Agenus. "Our Retrocyte Display technology has produced high quality antibody candidates and offers significant advantages over competing technologies. With Incyte, we believe we have an ideal partner to help define the evolving treatment paradigm of cancer immunotherapies."
Incyte will make upfront payments to Agenus totaling $25 million and invest $35 million by purchasing approximately 7.76 million newly issued shares of Agenus common stock at a price of $4.51 per share. In addition to the initial four target programs in the alliance, the parties have an option to jointly nominate and pursue additional targets within the framework of the multi-year collaboration.
For each royalty-bearing product, Agenus will be eligible to receive up to $155 million in future contingent development, regulatory and commercialization milestones. Also for royalty-bearing products, Agenus will be eligible to receive tiered royalties on global net sales ranging from mid-single to low-double digit rates, and has reserved the right to elect to co-fund 30% of development costs for increased royalties.
For products from any additional programs that the parties elect to bring into the collaboration, Agenus may opt to designate them as profit-share products. For each profit-share product, Agenus will be eligible to receive up to $20 million in future contingent development milestones.
Retrocyte Display is a proprietary retroviral technology that enables a highly diverse library (>1x109) of human IgG molecules to be displayed on the surface of B-lineage cells. This innovative cell-displayed expression platform permits the rapid generation of fully human and humanized therapeutic antibodies with high affinity and target specificity.