Cancer therapies dominated licensing agreements in the first quarter of 2021, making up 26 of the 60 new agreements covered by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

With an upfront payment of $ 650 million, Novartis AGapproval for in-licensing from BeiGene Ltd. The cancer therapy tislelizumab in key markets outside of China was the biggest deal of the year through March 31. The PD-1 inhibitor is being studied in 15 clinical trials for the treatment of a variety of cancers, including non-small cell lung cancer, gastric cancer and hepatocellular carcinoma.

“We see the collaboration with Novartis as extremely strategic BeiGene is helping BeiGene to bring tislelizumab to Europe and expand its presence in the EU The US paid in part for the joint detailing, “Cowen analysts said in a March 22 report. a token of confidence in the prospects of Novartis’ tislelizumab, which will deprioritize its own PD-1 Inhibitor. ”

The second largest cancer deal was the $ 150 million upfront payment from California-based biotechnology Coherus BioSciences Inc. for toripalimab melanoma treatment from Shanghai Junshi Biosciences Co. Ltd., another PD-1 inhibitor. The award also included options to evaluate the Chinese company’s T-cell immune receptor-targeting antibody and next-generation engineered IL-2 cytokine as potential combination therapies with toripalimab, as well as negotiating rights for two early-stage checkpoint inhibitor antibodies.

Fern Barkalow, GlobalData’s senior director of oncology and hematology, said in a January 15 report that major immuno-oncology drug developers in China are facing stiff competition from domestic manufacturers.

“This could lead to an increase in the number of partnership and licensing agreements that use creative strategies between local pharmaceutical companies in China and larger international companies to reduce local competition and help China-based companies get their medicines globally market, “said Barkalov.

Six of the offers S&P Global Market Intelligence, which was covered in the quarter, included COVID-19 therapies. These included those from Gritstone Oncology Inc. non-exclusive license agreement with Genevant Sciences Corp. develops self-amplifying RNA vaccines against the coronavirus for $ 192 million in upfront payments and potential milestone payments.

HIV interest

Gritstone also caught the attention of Gilead Sciences Inc., which prepaid $ 60 million in cash and equity to use the company Vaccine against biotech from Emeryville, California Platform for the development of a vaccine against HIV that offers hope of a long-awaited first for pharmaceuticals.

“I don’t have a crystal ball, but I can say we are closer than ever,” said Diana Brainard, senior vice president and head of Virology Therapies for Gilead, told S&P Global Market Intelligence in March. “There’s an ongoing commitment and confidence that with the right science and attention, we can find this out.”

Gilead also announced a separate HIV collaboration with Merck & Co. Inc. to co-develop its experimental lenacapavir, an experimental capsid inhibitor, with its islatravir, a nucleoside reverse transcriptase translocation inhibitor, as a potential two-drug treatment market to patients with the virus.

Of the six neurological disease deals covered by S&P Global Market Intelligence, this is the largest upfront payment – and the second largest of all covered businesses – was the Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. fee. US $ 196 million to secure worldwide rights to Ovid Therapeutics Inc.Soticlestat of investigational medicine for the treatment of encephalopathies, including Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.