Johnson & Johnson exits agreements with Aduro Biotech in lung, prostate cancer

Aduro Biotech disclosed in a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission that Johnson & Johnson's Janssen Biotech unit plans to terminate licensing agreements with the company related to its attenuated strains of Listeria for the treatment of lung and prostate cancers. The deals, signed in 2014, included upfront and milestone payments to Aduro that could have been worth up to $1.2 billion.

Under the first agreement, Janssen gained exclusive rights to drugs based on Aduro's Listeria-based immunotherapy construct (LADD) platform, including the GVAX technology, for the treatment of prostate cancer, for upfront and milestone payments of up to $365 million. Meanwhile, the second deal focused on product candidates for the treatment of lung cancer and certain other cancers based on the LADD immunotherapy platform, with Janssen making a $30-million up-front payment and Auro eligible to receive milestones of up to $817 million.

Although Aduro did not provide further details on Janssen's decision, in 2016, the FDA placed a partial hold on clinical trials utilising the LADD platform after a patient tested positive for Listeria. Aduro noted that following the termination by Janssen, it will regain rights to ADU-214, ADU-741 and GVAX Prostate effective December 24.

The news comes shortly after Janssen announced that it will end a collaboration and license agreement with Geron for imetelstat due to "a strategic portfolio evaluation and prioritisation of assets." The companies entered into a deal in 2014 to develop and commercialise the telomerase inhibitor in oncology, including haematologic myeloid malignancies.

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