Pharma Focus Asia

Agenus and Betta Pharmaceuticals Enter Into a License Agreement for Balstilimab and Zalifrelimab in Greater China

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Agenus Inc., an immuno-oncology (I-O) company with an extensive pipeline of agents designed to activate immune response to cancers, announced today that it has entered into an agreement with Betta Pharmaceuticals (SZ300558), a top Chinese pharmaceutical company focusing on the development of innovative oncology therapies, for an exclusive collaboration and license agreement for the development and commercialization of balstilimab and zalifrelimab in Greater China, including Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

Under the terms of the agreement, Agenus will receive $35 million, which includes $15 million in upfront cash and a $20 million equity investment. The agreement also includes $100 million in potential milestones plus royalties on net sales.  Betta receives exclusive rights for the development and commercialization of balstilimab and zalifrelimab to either as monotherapies or combination therapies, excluding intravesical delivery in greater China.

Agenus' balstilimab (anti-PD-1) is advancing in trials planned for BLA filing this year as a monotherapy and in combination with zalifrelimab (anti-CTLA-4) for the treatment of refractory or metastatic cervical cancer.  Agenus has recently reported positive results suggesting robust and durable responses of balstilimab and zalifrelimab in patients with relapsed or refractory metastatic cervical cancer. The US FDA recently granted Fast Track designation for balstilimab alone and in combination with zalifrelimab in this indication.

"Betta has a strong track record of advancing innovative products in China and a growing portfolio of complementary oncology therapies," said Garo Armen, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Agenus. "Betta is an ideal partner to enable us to address significant patient needs in China while also advancing global development of balstilimab and zalifrelimab."

"We are delighted to enter this collaboration with Agenus, a leader in the immuno-oncology field, as the first step in a long-term strategic partnership," said Lieming Ding, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Betta Pharmaceuticals. " Based on the compelling clinical data reported to date, we believe Agenus' balstilimab and zalifrelimab hold great promise for Chinese patients with cervical cancer, with the potential to further expand in additional tumor types through synergistic combinations with Betta's existing pipeline programs."

The equity purchase component of the transaction is subject to China regulatory approval and other customary closing conditions.

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