Roche partners with Xencor to develop IL-15 cytokine therapeutics for cancer

Roche's Genentech unit agreed to pay $120 million upfront as part of a research and licensing deal with Xencor to develop IL-15 cytokine therapeutics in oncology, the latter announced Tuesday. The agreement includes Xencor's XmAb24306, an IL-15/IL-15 receptor alpha cytokine complex engineered with the company's bispecific Fc domain and Xtend Fc technology.  

James Sabry, head of pharma partnering at Roche, commented "we believe cytokine therapy will play an important role in the treatment of a wide range of diseases, including cancer," continuing "this collaboration with Xencor will further enhance our understanding of a critical immune activation pathway and may present a potential new way to use the immune system to target cancer." 

Under the agreed terms, the companies will co-develop XmAb24306 and other potential IL-15 programmes, with the parties sharing development costs and profits. Genentech will commercialise medicines worldwide, and Xencor has the option to co-promote them in the US.  

As part of the transaction, Xencor is eligible to receive up to $160 million in development milestones for the XmAb24306 programme and up to $180 million in development milestones for each new IL-15 drug candidate. Meanwhile, Xencor is eligible to receive a 45-percent share of net profits for sales of XmAb24306 and other products arising from the collaboration.  

The transaction is expected to close in the first half of the year.

The deal comes after Genentech inked an agreement last month to jointly develop, manufacture and commercialise neoantigen directed T-cell therapies with Adaptive Biotechnologies in a deal potentially worth more than $2 billion over time.

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