Blueprint and Roche in Cancer Immunotherapy Deal

17.03.2016 -

US biotechnology company Blueprint Medicines is collaborating with Swiss drugs giant Roche on the discovery, development and commercialization of up to five cancer immunotherapies. The alliance, which will focus on small molecule therapeutics targeting kinases, could be worth more than $1 billion.

Immunokinases are known to regulate numerous aspects of immune response and offer the opportunity to find ways to boost the immune system’s ability to recognize and kill tumor cells.

The collaboration is looking to develop new mechanisms of modulating the tumor immune response by targeting immunokinases with the goal of enhancing response rates and broadening the scope of treatment. To date, most cancer immunotherapies have focused on antibodies or combinations with existing approved treatments and have not yet targeted immunokinases with small molecules.

Under the terms of the deal, Blueprint will receive cash upfront of $45 million and be eligible for additional payments of up to $965 million in option fees and milestone payments relating to specific milestones across all five programs. Approximately $215 million of the total contingent payments are for option fees and milestone payments for research, preclinical and clinical development prior to licensing. In addition, the agreement provides for specified royalties and cost sharing.

Roche’s rights are structured as an option, triggered upon achieving Phase 1 proof of concept, for an exclusive license to each drug candidate developed. If Roche exercises an option, then it will be responsible for subsequent global development through registrational clinical trials.

Blueprint will retain worldwide rights to any drug candidates for which Roche decides not to take up the option. It will lead preclinical research and development through Phase 1 proof of concept for all five programs and retain US commercial rights for two of them.

Jeff Albers, CEO of Blueprint Medicines, said: “We believe Blueprint Medicines’ proprietary drug discovery platform and expertise in immunokinases, combined with our proven ability to move quickly through drug discovery, is a perfect complement to Roche’s expertise with cancer immunotherapy biology and in developing and commercializing innovative therapies.”