Kyn Therapeutics, a US-based clinical-stage biotech company, has entered into a global collaboration with biopharma major Celgene to develop immuno-oncology therapies.
The collaboration will combine the immuno-oncology expertise and pipeline of Kyn Therapeutics with the capabilities of Celgene in development and commercialization of drugs in areas of high unmet medical need.
Celgene business development and global alliances head Robert Hershberg said: “This collaboration signals our continued commitment to work with partners to develop innovative treatments for patients with unmet medical need.”
In this regard, Celgene will make an upfront payment of $80m and also an equity investment in the clinical-stage company.
In return, the biopharma major will get exclusive options to license Kyn Therapeutics’ aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) antagonist and kynurenine-degrading enzyme (Kynase) programs.
Kyn Therapeutics said AHR and kynurenine are associated with immunosuppression in a variety of tumor forms through multiple cellular metabolic mechanisms that regulate innate and adaptive immunity.
The company noted that these attributes make the two candidates compelling targets for investigative therapies, especially in patients who do not benefit fully from existing treatments such as checkpoint inhibitors.
As per the terms, for both the AHR and Kynase programs, Kyn Therapeutics will be responsible for the research and development (R&D) activities up to phase 1b, at which time Celgene can exercise the option to lead and fund global development and commercialization of the licensed programs.
If successful, Massachusetts-based Kyn will be eligible for clinical, regulatory and commercial milestone payments. The company will also get tiered royalties on global net sales on products emerging from development of the licensed programs.
Kyn Therapeutics president and CEO Mark Manfredi said: “At Kyn, our team has built a diverse portfolio informed by the most compelling biology in the field of immunometabolism to establish a leadership position in this area of innovative cancer therapy development.
“Celgene’s R&D capabilities and focus on groundbreaking biology are a strong strategic fit for Kyn’s programs. As a fast-growing immuno-oncology therapeutics developer, we also welcome Celgene on board as an equity investor and supporter of our R&D strategy and leadership.”
Earlier this month, Celgene agreed to be acquired by Bristol-Myers Squibb in a cash-cum-stock deal worth about $74bn.