Chinese biotech, I-Mab, has signed a deal with AbbVie for the development and commercialization of I-Mab’s highly differentiated anti-CD47 monoclonal antibody lemzoparlimab (TJC4). TJC4 is an innovative anti-CD47 monoclonal antibody discovered and developed by I-Mab for the treatment of multiple cancers. The drug is designed to minimize inherent binding to normal red blood cells while preserving its strong anti-tumor potentials.
The new agreement will give AbbVie the exclusive rights to develop and commercialize TJC4 in all countries around the globe (excluding China).
I-Mab will share manufacturing responsibilities with AbbVie being the major manufacturer for global supply, and there is a possibility for expansion of the collaboration to additional transformative therapies. According to the deal, each party will have the chance to explore each other’s related programs in their respective territories, subject to further licenses.
The deal comprises a $180 million upfront payment and a $20 million milestone payment – up to $2 billion. $1.74 billion of the $2 billion will be split evenly between commercial royalties and R&D, with $840 million budgeted for clinical development and regulatory approval milestones.
Upon approval and commercialization of the drug by regulatory bodies, AbbVie is expected to further pay tiered royalties from low-to-mid teen percentages on global net sales outside of greater China.
According to Jingwu Zang, founder, and director of Shanghai-based I-Mab, by taking advantage of the two companies' combined development strength, the deal can accelerate lemzoparlimab to markets for patients in need around the globe.
"Cancer is the second-leading cause of death globally, and the need for novel cancer therapies has never been more acute. The addition of I-Mab's novel CD47 programs complements our global clinical strategy in hematology and immune-oncology,” said Thomas J Hudson, senior vice president of R&D and chief scientific officer, AbbVie.
However, there is concern by AbbVie that the development of CD47 antibody as cancer therapy can be hampered by its hematologic side effects, such as severe anemia, triggered by the natural binding of CD47 antibody to red blood cells. However, the fear has been erased thanks to topline results of the recent phase 1 clinical trial, which confirmed possible differentiation of lemzoparlimab in drug safety and a more favorable pharmacokinetic profile in cancer patients.