GSK pays $625 million upfront for rights to iTeos' anti-TIGIT antibody

GlaxoSmithKlines agreed to pay $625 million upfront to secure rights to iTeos Therapeutics' anti-TIGIT monoclonal antibody EOS-448 as part of a deal potentially worth over $2 billion, the companies said Monday. The drug is currently in Phase I development for advanced solid tumours, and combination studies with GlaxoSmithKline's newly approved anti-PD-1 therapy Jemperli (dostarlimab) are planned for 2022.

Preliminary data for EOS-448 monotherapy presented at the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) conference in April hinted at early signs of clinical activity in advanced cancers, including a partial response in a melanoma patient with resistance to Merck & Co.'s Keytruda (pembrolizumab) (for related analysis, see AACR21: TIGIT tango continues).

Clutch of CD226 checkpoint-targeting assets

According to GlaxoSmithKline, the deal with iTeos means it now has access to antibodies that target all three known CD226 checkpoints; namely TIGIT, CD96 and PVRIG. The UK drugmaker has a CD96 antagonist, dubbed GSK6097608, currently in Phase I development with 23andMe, as well as an anti-PVRIG compound called GSK'562 that it in-licensed as SRF-813 from Surface Oncology in December.

GlaxoSmithKline said it intends to explore all these pipeline assets, along with Jemperli, through various combinations, including doublets and triplets. "Based on the underlying science, we believe that combinations of a PD-1, TIGIT, CD96 and PVRIG inhibitor could become transformative medicines for many patients with cancer," commented Hal Barron, president of R&D at GlaxoSmithKline.

Along with the upfront payment, iTeos is eligible to receive up to an additional $1.45 billion in payments if the EOS-448 programme achieves certain development and commercial milestones. The companies will share responsibility and costs for the global development of EOS-448, and will jointly commercialise and equally split profits in the US. GlaxoSmithKline will hold an exclusive license for commercialisation outside the US, with iTeos to receive tiered royalty payments.

'Rapid advancement' of TIGIT programme

Michel Detheux, chief executive at iTeos, said his company agreed to tie-up with GlaxoSmithKline because of their "commitment to invest in the rapid advancement of our TIGIT programme and create a clear path forward for EOS-448." He added that the deal will allow iTeos, whose shares jumped as much as 38% on the news, to continue developing next-generation immunotherapies, starting with the A2A adenosine receptor antagonist inupadenant, for which it recently presented positive early-stage data at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting.

Other companies working on TIGIT-targeting treatments include Roche, whose drug tiragolumab won FDA breakthrough status for non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) based on mid-stage study data, as well as Merck & Co., which has indicated plans to advance vibostolimab into Phase III testing for NSCLC in the first half of this year.

Last month, Bristol-Myers Squibb agreed to pay $200 million upfront to acquire an exclusive global license to Agenus' anti-TIGIT bispecific antibody programme AGEN1777, while Gilead Sciences has forged a long-term partnership to co-develop next-generation cancer immunotherapies from Arcus Biosciences' pipeline, which includes the anti-TIGIT antibody AB154. Earlier this year, Gilead boosted its ownership in Arcus to 19.5% from 13% previously.

For further analysis, read ViewPoints: Bristol Myers Squibb, Agenus in TIGIT tie-up.

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