Pharma Focus Asia

Roivant and Sinovant Launch Cytovant Sciences in Partnership with Medigene to Develop Cellular Therapies in Asia

Friday, April 05, 2019

Sinovant Sciences and Roivant Sciences today announced the launch of Cytovant Sciences, a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing and commercializing innovative cellular therapeutics in Asia. Cytovant will focus on development programs that have the potential to transform the treatment of diseases that are prevalent in Asian patients. Concurrent with the company's launch, Cytovant has entered into a multi-program license and collaboration agreement with Medigene AG, a clinical stage biotechnology company focusing on the development of T cell immunotherapies.

Medigene has granted Cytovant exclusive licenses to develop, manufacture, and commercialize Medigene's research-stage T cell immunotherapy targeting NY-ESO-1 as well as a DC vaccine targeting WT-1 and PRAME, in Greater China, South Korea, and Japan. In addition, Cytovant and Medigene have entered into a strategic collaboration and discovery agreement for T-cell receptor (TCR) immunotherapies for two additional targets. Medigene will be responsible for the generation and delivery of the TCR constructs using its proprietary TCR discovery and isolation platform. Following this research collaboration period, Cytovant will assume sole responsibility for the development and commercialization of these TCR therapies in the relevant countries. The TCRs to be generated by Medigene will be tailored specifically to Asian patients.

Under the terms of the transaction agreements, Medigene will receive an overall upfront payment of USD 10 million as well as potential development, regulatory, and commercial milestone payments which in aggregate could total over USD 1 billion for the four products across multiple indications. Furthermore, Medigene will be eligible to receive royalty payments on net sales of the products in a low double-digit percentage in the relevant countries. Additionally, Cytovant will reimburse all R&D costs incurred by Medigene within the collaboration.

"T cell receptors are the scouts of the immune system," said Prof. Dolores Schendel, CEO/CSO of Medigene. "They help T cells recognize and destroy cancer cells. We use our sophisticated screening systems to generate tailored TCR therapies for patient populations with specific genetic characteristics. This partnership implements Medigene's strategy to discover TCRs with various HLA specificities in order to address different populations and markets. Cytovant, with its highly experienced management and scientific team was launched by Sinovant and Roivant to achieve excellence in cell therapies and we are proud to be part of this story of delivering various TCR projects as well as our DC vaccine for development in East Asia."

"The complexities of end-to-end cell therapy manufacturing, development, and commercialization in Asia require regional focus, specialization, and knowledge," said Benjamin Zimmer, President of Roivant Health. "Roivant and Sinovant have built Cytovant precisely to address these scientific and logistical complexities. We are excited to announce this strategic alliance with Medigene, one of the leading companies in the field of T cell-based therapies, to deliver important new cellular immunotherapies to Asian patients as quickly as possible."

Dr. John Xu, a molecular immunologist by training and translational scientist, has joined Cytovant and will serve as the company's President. Prior to joining Cytovant, Dr. Xu was President and Chief Scientific Officer of Mab-Legend Biotech, a Shanghai-based antibody discovery company. Previously, Dr. Xu also served as Chief Scientific Officer of Shanghai Benemae Pharmaceutical Corporation and as Head of the Biologics Group at GSK China. He received his B.S. in cell biology and genetics from Peking University and his Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biology from Harvard University.

"We are thrilled to welcome John to Cytovant," said Dr. Xinan Chen, Executive Chairman of Sinovant. "John's deep scientific expertise and knowledge of Asia's health priorities make him an ideal leader for the company as we prepare to rapidly scale its research and development activities. The launch of Cytovant represents an important milestone in Sinovant's evolution as a platform for entrepreneurs like John and we look forward to building Cytovant with him."

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