AbbVie, argenx enter $685-million deal to develop cancer drug ARGX-115

AbbVie entered a collaboration potentially worth up to $685 million to develop and commercialise argenx's experimental cancer drug ARGX-115, the companies reported Thursday. Anil Singhal, vice president, early oncology development at AbbVie, remarked "we believe that the ARGX-115 programme is a unique opportunity to explore the potential to block certain immune-suppressive pathways that allow cancers to grow."

ARGX-115 is a preclinical-stage human antibody programme targeting the immuno-oncology target GARP, which AbbVie and argenx noted is a protein believed to contribute to immuno-suppressive effects of T-cells. Tim van Hauwermeiren, chief executive at argenx, explained that "ARGX-115 has the potential to advance immuno-oncology by selectively targeting tumour immune escape pathways."

Under the deal, AbbVie will make an upfront payment of $40 million to argenx, which is also eligible for near-term preclinical milestones of $20 million, as well as additional milestone payments of up to $625 million and up to double-digit royalties on net sales if ARGX-115 reaches the market. The companies indicated that argenx will conduct R&D through IND-enabling studies, after which AbbVie can choose to license the ARGX-115 programme and assume responsibility for further clinical development and commercialisation. In addition, argenx has the right to co-promote ARGX-115-based products in the EU and Switzerland.

Further, once a predetermined preclinical stage milestone has been met, AbbVie will fund additional GARP-related research by argenx for an initial period of two years. The companies said that AbbVie will have the right to license additional programmes emerging from this research, for which argenx would be eligible to receive milestone and royalty payments.

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