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Daiichi Sankyo: Two steps forward, one step back in cancer deals

Published on 14/12/17 at 08:23am

Daiichi Sankyo had a busy day in terms of its deals in oncology, not only did it tear up its agreement with Nektar Therapeutics but it also signed up for two more deals yesterday.

The two newly inked deals are with Vernalis and Puma Biotech, both deals are within oncology.

Daiichi’s work with Vernalis will involve drug discovery, as the two companies will work with Vernalis’ fragment and structure-based drug discovery platform to identify new targets within oncology. The financial terms of the agreement were not revealed.

The company’s work with Puma Biotech will be based around developing the biotech’s newly approved breast cancer treatment, Nerlynx. The tyrosine kinase inhibitor was approved by the FDA in July for the treatment of HER2-positive breast cancer but Daiichi now wants to pair the treatment with its own investigational antibody drug conjugate, DS-8210.

The combination treatment will go into pre-clinical tests to determine how susceptible HER2-mutated or HER2-posititve cancers are to the combination therapy.

“Since early clinical data suggest that DS-8201 may have activity beyond breast and gastric cancers, the archetype HER2-driven tumours, we are interested in studying this asset on a molecular level as well as in combination with other HER2-targeting agents,” said Tom Held, Vice President, Global Head, Antibody Drug Conjugate Task Force, Daiichi Sankyo.

If this news is the good for the companies involved then there was also some bad news for Daiichi in the failure of Nektar Therapeutics to navigate through the EMA’s CHMP for its Onzeald product.

Nektar had struck a licensing agreement with Daicchi for $20 million up-front for the license to market the drug in Europe, as well as in Switzerland and Turkey. However, after its appeal to the CHMP failed, Daiichi walked back on the terms of the agreement, as written into the original contract.

The failure of Onzeald sees Daiichi revoke its rights and licenses for the treatment and, in return, Nektar will have to pay a $12.5 million termination payment.

It was a busy day for Daiichi but it will be hoping that at least one of its new agreements proves more successful than the one it cancelled on the same day.

Ben Hargreaves

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