Roche, NewLink Genetics reach deal potentially worth more than $1 billion to develop cancer immunotherapy

Roche entered into an exclusive global licensing agreement potentially valued at over $1 billion to develop NewLink Genetics' IDO pathway inhibitor NLG919, which is currently in Phase I testing, NewLink announced Monday. The companies also agreed to collaborate on the discovery of next-generation IDO/TDO compounds.

Under the terms of the deal, NewLink, whose shares gained nearly 26 percent on the news, will receive an upfront payment of $150 million. The company will also be eligible for additional payments in excess of $1 billion based on the achievement of certain milestones, as well as escalating double-digit royalties on potential commercial sales of multiple products by Roche's Genentech unit. Roche will be responsible for future R&D, manufacturing and commercialisation expenses, and will also provide funding to NewLink to support the research collaboration.

Meanwhile, NewLink will retain the option for co-promotion rights for NLG919 and potential next-generation IDO/TDO compounds in the US. The company also said it plans to continue pursuing development activities associated with NLG919 in combination with its HyperAcute vaccine platform.

"We are intrigued by the biology of the IDO and TDO compounds and are very interested in the potential to combine them with Genentech's portfolio of novel therapies," commented James Sabry, global head of Genentech Partnering, adding "we hope this collaboration will lead to new therapies for people with cancer."

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