Harbour BioMed licensed a midphase PD-L1 antibody from Kelun Biotech for development and commercialization outside of Greater China. Kelun stands to earn up to $350 million, but the partners did not specify how much the deal was worth upfront.
The antibody in question, A167, is currently in phase 1 and phase 2 trials in China for lymphoma and solid tumors. Harbour and Kelun will share data as they develop the asset as a monotherapy and in combination with other agents.
“We are delighted to advance A167 globally and work closely with Kelun-Biotech to achieve its therapeutic potential,” said Harbour CEO Jingsong Wang, M.D., Ph.D. “We plan to conduct A167-based combination trials globally by ourselves, including with innovative compounds we are developing, or in collaboration with our partners, to find better therapeutic options against a wide range of tumor types.”
The PD-L1 partnership is the second deal Harbour and Kelun struck this year, but is the former’s first global development alliance. Under their first collaboration, the companies agreed to co-discover, co-develop and commercialize antibodies against innovative targets, based on Harbour’s fully human antibody discovery platforms.
“[The deal] is an important step that accelerates our plan to build a highly innovative, clinical-stage portfolio for worldwide markets,” Wang said in the statement.
Shanghai-based Harbour BioMed moved in this plan in 2016, when it acquired Harbor Antibodies for an undisclosed amount, gaining a business base in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and an antibody platform development center in the Netherlands in the process.
It’s no secret that Harbour and Kelun will be playing catch-up in a field that already has five PD-1/PD-L1 meds on the market—Bristol-Myers Squibb and Merck’s blockbusters, Opdivo and Keytruda, approved for a clutch of indications, as well as PD-L1 drugs from Roche, AstraZeneca and tandem Merck KGaA/Pfizer. But an emerging school of thought that differentiates between PD-1 and PD-L1 drugs rather than grouping them all together suggests that there is room for another player in the crowded space.