Cilag GmbH to Collaborate with argenx on New Treatment for AML, MDS

Cusatuzumab (ARGX-110) is a checkpoint inhibitor targeting CD70.

Cilag GmbH International, an affiliate of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, has signed an agreement with clinical-stage biotechnology company argenx to collaborate on a joint global clinical development plan to evaluate cusatuzumab, a checkpoint inhibitor targeting CD70, in acute myeloid leukemia (AML), myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) and other potential future indications.

As part of the deal, which is expected to close in the first quarter of 2019, argenx will receive a $300 million upfront payment from Janssen, and Johnson & Johnson Innovation will purchase $200 million worth of newly issued shares representing 4.68% of argenx’s outstanding shares. argenyx will also be eligible to receive up to $1.3 billion in development, regulatory and sales milestone payments. Janssen will be responsible for global commercialization, while argenyx will retain the right to co-promote cusatuzumab in the United States and share economics 50–50 on a royalty basis. Outside the United States, Janssen will pay double-digit sales royalties to argenx.

Cusatuzumab (ARGX-110) is an investigational SIMPLE Antibody™ targeting CD70, an immune checkpoint target involved in hematological malignancies, several solid tumors and severe autoimmune diseases. It has a novel mode of action, targeting leukemic stem cells, a known driver of the relapse mechanism.

Currently cusatuzumab is being evaluated in a phase I/II combination study with Vidaza® (azacytidine, Celgene), an antineoplastic or cytotoxic chemotherapy drug, for the treatment of newly diagnosed, elderly patients with AML and high-risk MDS who are unsuitable for chemotherapy.

David Alvaro, Ph.D.

David is Scientific Editorial Director for That’s Nice and the Pharma’s Almanac content enterprise, responsible for directing and generating industry, scientific and research-based content, including client-owned strategic content. Before joining That’s Nice, David served as a scientific editor for the multidisciplinary scientific journal Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. He received a B.A. in Biology from New York University and a Ph.D. in Genetics and Development from Columbia University.