News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

Abbvie signs up China’s I-Mab for immuno-oncology therapy

Health Industry Hub | September 9, 2020 |
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Pharma News: AbbVie and China’s I-Mab biopharma enter a global agreement for the development and commercialisation of lemzoparlimab (also known as TJC4), an innovative anti-CD47 monoclonal antibody internally discovered and developed by I-Mab for the treatment of multiple cancers. 

Abbvie stands to pay a lot less for lemzoparlimab than the $4.9bn that Gilead paid to acquire Forty Seven in March 2020.

Topline results of the recent phase 1 clinical trial confirm possible differentiation of lemzoparlimab in drug safety and a more favourable pharmacokinetics profile in cancer patients. Results have shown that lemzoparlimab is well tolerated as a single agent at a dose range of up to 30 mg/kg without any priming dose. In all DLT-evaluable patients, no dose-limiting toxicities or severe hematologic adverse events were observed. 

I-Mab claims that lemzoparlimab is different from the rest because it minimises binding to red blood cells. The company said this is what caused adverse events like anaemia with the older CD47-antibodies.

Abbvie will pay $200M up front to license lemzoparlimab outside China. A further $840M will be due if the project hits certain clinical and regulatory milestones, and another $900M in milestones is dependent on sales.

At just under $2bn in biodollars, this is the biggest outlicensing deal by a China-based biotech company.

There is also the potential to combine lemzoparlimab with other Abbvie agents. The I-Mab execs highlighted Venclexta and lemzoparlimab as one potential combo.

As for the competition, Gilead will initiate phase III trial of magrolimab, putting it ahead of a sizeable pack that includes Trillium, another potential acquisition target. With pharma interest in CD47 resurgent more M&As could be coming.


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