AVEO Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:AVEO) and CANbridge Life Sciences, a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing Western drug candidates in China and North Asia, today announced an exclusive collaboration and license agreement in which AVEO has granted CANbridge Life Sciences worldwide rights, excluding the United States, Canada, and Mexico, to AV-203, AVEO’s clinical-stage ErbB3 (HER3) inhibitory antibody candidate.

CANbridge plans to develop AV-203 first in esophageal squamous cell cancer (ESCC), the most prevalent form of esophageal cancer. According to the World Health Organization, esophageal cancer is the eighth most common cancer globally, with over 450,000 cases diagnosed each year. To date, AVEO has completed a Phase 1, open-label, dose-escalation study of AV-203 in patients with advanced solid tumors. In this study, AV-203 was found to be generally safe and well-tolerated, with an early signal of activity consistent with preclinical data showing the potential for heregulin, the only known ligand for ErbB3, to serve as a biomarker predictive of AV-203 anti-tumor activity.

Under the terms of the agreement, CANbridge Life Sciences is obligated to pay AVEO an upfront payment of $1 million plus up to $133 million in potential reimbursement and milestone payments, assuming the successful achievement of specified development, regulatory and commercialization objectives. AVEO is also eligible for a tiered royalty, with a percentage range in the low double digits, on net sales of AV-203 in the agreement’s territories.

CANbridge Life Sciences will be responsible for costs associated with the execution of a development plan that includes additional manufacturing requirements as well as pre-clinical and clinical studies necessary to demonstrate proof-of-concept for AV-203 as a treatment for squamous cell esophagus cancer, including a Phase IIa proof-of-concept study meeting mutually agreed upon criteria. Following completion of the proof-of-concept studies, AVEOand CANbridge will negotiate a possible agreement under which they may co-develop AV-203, with each party bearing a percentage of the cost of global development activities based on respective geographic rights. If the parties fail to reach such an agreement, CANbridge may continue the development of AV-203 on its own in markets outside of the United States,Canada and Mexico.

“With an exclusive license to AV-203 outside of North America, CANbridge will be expanding outside of Asia for the first time,” said James Xue, CANbridge Chairman and CEO. “Pre-clinical work shows that AV-203 has the potential to treat ESCC, the most common type of esophageal cancer in Asia, with fifty percent of worldwide diagnoses occurring in China. Esophageal cancer is also prevalent in other parts of the world, particularly developing countries. As part of our globalization strategy, we plan to develop AV-203 in Asia first, then bring it to other territories where patients with this form of disease have few treatment options.”

“There is a growing body of clinical data which suggests that heregulin-driven ErbB3 signaling drives resistance to standard therapy in a variety of tumors overexpressing HER3,” said Michael Bailey, president and chief executive officer of AVEO. “This agreement allows us to further advance AV-203 development by leveraging the resources of a motivated partner in CANbridge, which is led by a deeply experienced team hailing from Genzyme, Synageva and other life sciences innovators. Importantly, it also allows us to retain North American rights for future development for a third clinical stage drug candidate, providingAVEO with a robust portfolio of oncology therapeutics.” (Original Source)

Shares of AVEO Pharmaceuticals closed last Friday at $0.93, up $0.03 or 3.02%. AVEO has a 1-year high of $3.50 and a 1-year low of $0.82. The stock’s 50-day moving average is $0.97 and its 200-day moving average is $1.14.

AVEO Pharmaceuticals Inc is a biopharmaceutical company. It is involved in discovering, developing and commercializing novel cancer therapeutics.