Celgene Corporation (NASDAQ:CELG) and Agios Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:AGIO) announced an agreement creating a new global strategic collaboration focused on metabolic immuno-oncology, an emerging field of cancer research focused on altering the metabolic state of immune cells to enhance the body’s immune response to cancer. The goal of the collaboration is to discover, develop and commercialize novel therapies based on Agios’ innovative cellular metabolism research platform. Agios will receive an upfront cash payment of $200 million plus the potential for additional payments if certain development and regulatory milestones are achieved. Agios will host a conference call for investors today at 5 p.m. ET.
“The immune system’s ability to attack tumors is highly regulated by cellular metabolism. This emerging discipline of metabolic immuno-oncology has great potential to provide novel insights and targets for cancer immunotherapy in solid and hematologic malignancies,” said Rob Hershberg, M.D., Ph.D., chief scientific officer at Celgene. “This strategic agreement combines Agios’ scientific leadership in cellular metabolism with Celgene’s expertise and growing efforts in immuno-oncology and builds upon the extremely productive partnership and working relationship that exist between our two companies.”
“Metabolic immuno-oncology is an exciting new area of research for Agios that holds tremendous promise for patients and builds on our strength in cellular metabolism,” said David Schenkein, M.D., chief executive officer at Agios. “Following our successful cancer metabolism partnership, we look forward to continuing our work with Celgene in this new field. This strategic alliance will allow Agios to quickly expand our existing research platform into a third core area while leveraging Celgene’s capabilities and broad portfolio of immuno-oncology assets.”
Also announced today, the companies modified certain rights from their 2010 collaboration (the “2010 Agreement”). First, Agios, which previously held U.S. rights for AG-120, gained global development and commercialization rights to the program from Celgene. As of August 15, 2016, neither party will have financial or other obligations to each other related to AG-120. There are no other changes to the existing IDH partnership between Agios and Celgene. Second, the companies agreed that rights to two cancer metabolism programs discovered under the 2010 Agreement, including a program focused on MTAP (methylthioadenosine phosphorylase) deleted cancers, will advance under the structure of the new research collaboration outlined below. Following the expiration of the discovery phase of the 2010 Agreement on April 14, 2016, all other cancer metabolism programs discovered at Agios will remain wholly owned by Agios.
New Metabolic Immuno-Oncology Collaboration
Metabolic immuno-oncology is a rapidly evolving scientific area focused on altering the metabolic state of immune cells, or the tumor microenvironment, to enhance the body’s immune response to cancer. There is increasing evidence that metabolism plays an important role in the regulation of immune cells and their response to tumors. The collaboration aims to discover novel metabolic pathways and their modulators that affect the metabolic state of immune cells, which may serve as potent anticancer therapies. In addition, Agios will focus on discovering molecular markers in order to identify patients who are most likely to respond to therapies.
- Agios will receive an upfront cash payment of $200 million for the initial four-year research term. Celgene has the option to extend the research term for up to two years for a pre-specified amount.
- Exploratory research, drug discovery and early development will be led by Agios.
- Generally, collaboration programs may be designated by Celgene when preclinical studies begin, and Celgene will then have an option on each program up through Phase 1 dose escalation for at least a $30 million fee.
Economic Terms on Optioned Programs:
- For metabolic immuno-oncology programs, Celgene and Agios will enter into a global co-development and co-commercialization agreement with a worldwide 50/50 cost and profit share. Agios is eligible for up to $169 million in clinical and regulatory milestone payments for each program.
- The two cancer metabolism programs from the 2010 Agreement, including a program focused on MTAP deleted cancers, are eligible for the same global co-development, co-commercialization and milestone structure described above.
- Celgene will have a one-time opportunity to select a metabolic immuno-oncology program for which costs and profits will be shared 65 percent by Celgene and 35 percent by Agios. Agios may also receive up to $209 million in clinical and regulatory milestone payments for this program.
- For any inflammation or autoimmune programs that may result from the collaboration, Celgene has the option to enter into an exclusive worldwide license agreement and lead worldwide development and commercialization. For any such licensed products, Agios may receive up to$386 million in clinical, regulatory and commercial milestone payments, as well as double-digit tiered royalties on any net sales.
Development and Commercial Rights:
- Agios and Celgene will alternate leadership of all 50/50 programs in the U.S. territory, with Agios making the first program selection.
- Celgene will lead ex-U.S. development and commercialization for all programs. Celgene will lead worldwide development and commercialization for the 65/35 program.
Global Rights for AG-120 Transferred to Agios
Agios now has full global development and commercial rights for AG-120, a first-in-class, oral, potent inhibitor of mutant isocitrate dehydrogenase 1 (IDH1). Agios is studying AG-120 in AML in multiple clinical trials, including as a single agent in the relapsed/refractory setting as well as in combination with standard chemotherapy regimens in the frontline setting. Additionally, Agios plans to initiate pivotal trials in AML and is exploring the use of AG-120 in several solid tumors, including cholangiocarcinoma and glioma.
“We are excited to consolidate the full worldwide rights for AG-120, providing us with another wholly owned investigational therapy discovered by Agios scientists to develop and commercialize along with our rare genetic disorders programs,” said Dr. Schenkein. “We know that people with AML have limited treatment options today, and we are committed to bringing AG-120 through pivotal development as quickly as possible.” (Original Source)
Shares of Celgene closed today at $100.68, down $0.89 or -0.88%. CELG has a 1-year high of $140.72 and a 1-year low of $92.98. The stock’s 50-day moving average is $104.21 and its 200-day moving average is $107.04.
On the ratings front, Celgene has been the subject of a number of recent research reports. In a report issued on May 2, Credit Suisse analyst Alethia Young reiterated a Buy rating on CELG, with a price target of $140, which represents a potential upside of 39.1% from where the stock is currently trading. Separately, on April 29, Morgan Stanley’s Matthew Harrison reiterated a Hold rating on the stock and has a price target of $127.
According to TipRanks.com, which ranks over 7,500 financial analysts and bloggers to gauge the performance of their past recommendations, Alethia Young and Matthew Harrison have a total average return of -11.9% and 2.1% respectively. Young has a success rate of 27.8% and is ranked #3709 out of 3833 analysts, while Harrison has a success rate of 40.5% and is ranked #1436.
Overall, one research analyst has assigned a Hold rating and 12 research analysts have given a Buy rating to the stock. When considering if perhaps the stock is under or overvalued, the average price target is $137.20 which is 36.3% above where the stock opened today.
Celgene Corp. is an integrated global biopharmaceutical company engaged primarily in the discovery, development and commercialization of therapies for the treatment of cancer and inflammatory diseases through gene and protein regulation. Its targeting areas include intracellular signaling pathways, protein homeostasis and epigenetics in cancer and immune cells, immunomodulation in cancer and autoimmune diseases and therapeutic application of cell therapies. The company’s products include Revlimid, Vidaza, Thalomid, Pomalyst/Imnovid, Abraxane, and Istodax. Celgene was founded by David Stirling and Sol Barer in 1986 and is headquartered in Summit, NJ.