The FINANCIAL — Amgen and Advaxis, Inc. on August 2 announced a global agreement for the development and commercialization of Advaxis’ ADXS-NEO, a novel, preclinical investigational cancer immunotherapy treatment that is designed to activate a patient’s immune system to respond against the unique mutations, or neoepitopes, contained in and identified from each individual patient’s tumor.
This collaboration brings together Amgen’s development expertise in immuno-oncology with Advaxis’ MINE (My Immunotherapy Neo-Epitopes) program, which is uniquely positioned to develop a customized approach to cancer treatment.
Under the terms of the agreement, Amgen receives exclusive worldwide rights to develop and commercialize ADXS-NEO. Amgen will make an upfront payment to Advaxis of $40 million and purchase $25 million of Advaxis common stock. Amgen will be fully responsible for funding clinical and commercial activities. Advaxis will lead the clinical development of ADXS-NEO through proof-of-concept, retain manufacturing responsibilities, and receive development, regulatory and sales milestone payments of up to $475 million and potential high single digit to mid-double digit royalty payments based on worldwide sales, according to Amgen.
“Amgen’s collaboration with Advaxis leverages and enhances our development and commercialization expertise in novel immuno-oncology treatments,” said Sean E. Harper, M.D., executive vice president of Research and Development at Amgen. “We look forward to partnering with Advaxis to advance this highly targeted and patient-specific treatment option for patients.”
“Amgen is a pioneer in the science of using living cells to develop biologic medicines, making them an incredibly strong partner to develop and commercialize Advaxis’ MINE,” said Daniel J. O’Connor, president and chief executive officer at Advaxis. “With Amgen’s resources, worldwide reach and a culture that embraces science and innovation, we are positioned to accelerate the clinical development program for ADXS-NEO to improve the lives of those who suffer from cancer.”
The Advaxis Lm Technology utilizes live attenuated Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) bioengineered to produce and deliver tumor antigen/adjuvant fusion proteins within antigen presenting cells with the goal of generating strong, T-cell-mediated immunity. For ADXS-NEO, DNA from each patient’s primary tumor and/or metastases as well as normal cells, is sequenced and compared to identify mutations in genes coding for potential neo-antigens in the cancer. Advaxis then engineers and manufactures patient-specific Lm-LLO (listeriolysin O) vectors capable of immunizing them against neoepitopes exclusive to their cancer. After the ADXS-NEO infusion, neoepitope peptides corresponding to each patient’s cancer-associated mutations are delivered directly into their antigen presenting cells by Lm-LLO, where they can stimulate cellular immune responses against multiple neoepitopes simultaneously. Clinical trials for ADXS-NEO are expected to begin in 2017.