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Athenex agreed to acquired Kuur for $185 million adding CAR-NKT platform


20/7/2021 | 3 minuty čtení

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Selected M&As and Partnering


Athenex agreed to acquired Kuur for $185 million adding CAR-NKT platform

Athenex will acquire the CAR natural killer T (NKT) cell therapy company Kuur for $70 million up front in Athenex stock with Kuur investors eligible for up to $115 million in milestones. It is a strategic shift for Athenex after FDA issued a complete response letter for the biotech’s oral paclitaxel program and requested a new trial in early March. The deal gives Athenex two CAR NKT cell therapies in Phase I testing: KUR-501, an autologous CAR NKT cell therapy targeting GD2 for neuroblastoma and KUR-502, an allogeneic CD19-targeted CAR NKT cell therapy aimed at treating hematological malignancies. The deal comes less than four months after Kuur presented the first clinical data for its platform that showed a complete response and a partial response among two evaluable lymphoma patients treated with KUR-502 in the Phase 1 ANCHOR study, and two responses among 10 evaluable patients in the Phase I GINAKIT2 trial. The deal has the potential to at least return most of the money to Kuur’s investors, which rebranded and re-launched last year from Cell Medica Inc., which itself had raised at least $185 million across six private financings.


BMS partners with Agenus on TIGIT cancer drug in a deal worth up to $1.6 billion

BMS’s belief that Agenus has built a differentiated TIGIT-targeting bispecific molecule has resulted in a potentially transformative deal for the biotech, delivering $200 million up front for the preclinical program to fuel its further aspirations in immuno-oncology. Agenus granted BMS exclusive, worldwide rights to AGEN1777, which is a bispecific antibody against TIGIT and an undisclosed target. The deal could supply Agenus with nearly $1.4 billion in additional milestones, plus double-digit royalties. AGEN1777 was built to overcome the limitations of other antibodies against TIGIT, which have not typically shown much efficacy as single agents. Agenus engineered the molecule to bind to the activating Fc receptor, resulting in monotherapy activity in preclinical settings. AGEN 1777’s other target is an immune receptor also expressed on T and NK cells. In its quarterly earnings call this month, Agenus said it hoped to begin clinical testing of AGEN1777 next quarter, pending submission of an IND. BMS will study it as a treatment for NSCLC and other high priority tumor indications. The therapy is the only bispecific anti-TIGIT molecule named in a Mizuho research note issued last month that describes the competitive space among checkpoint inhibitors against the target, but the landscape of bispecific antibodies targeting other checkpoint targets is rapidly expanding.

Pregene licenses BCMA CAR T cell therapy to Dr. Reddy’s in $163 million deal

Shenzhen Pregene Biopharma has outlicensed its internally developed anti-BCMA CAR T cell therapy candidate, PRG-1801, to Indian pharma giant Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd. in a $163 million deal to develop and commercialize it in India. The candidate, which is being developed by Pregene to treat relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma, is now in Phase 1 trial in China after an IND approval in March 2020. Pregene will receive upfront payment and future milestone payments of $5 million for the first indication, then up to $8 million in milestone payments for subsequent indications. It is also eligible to receive a double-digit royalty of up to $150 million on future sales of PRG-1801 in India. The Chinese biotech will be the exclusive supplier of lentiviral vectors, for manufacturing PRG-1801, which uses a humanized single-domain antibody as the antigen binding domain. Pregene uses a serum free suspension production system to produce the lentivirus vectors.

Overview of transactions in oncology (values in m$)









Kuur Therapeutics


Acquisition of company with autologous and allogenic CAR NKT cell therapies targeting GD2, CD19 and GPC3 against more cancer types

Ph 1





Pregene Biopharma

Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories

License to PRG-1801, an anti-BCMA CAR T cell therapy developed against multiple myeloma

Ph 1


163 5 158



License to bispecific antibody AGEN1777 against TIGIT and an undisclosed target against NSCLC



1 600


1 400

KU Leuven

SpringWork Therapeutics

License to small molecule TEAD inhibitors disrupting Hoppo pathway against cancer indications






Initial Public Offerings (IPOs) in oncology



Lead product



Amount m$

Price $

Day One Biopharma



Small molecule type II pan-RAF kinase inhibitor tested against pediatric oncology indications

Phase 2



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