The biggest deal of March landed right at the end of the month. In a partnership potentially worth almost $7 billion, Daiichi Sankyo and AstraZeneca will collaborate on the development of the Daiichi’s HER2-targeting antibody–drug conjugate [Fam-] trastuzumab deruxtecan (DS-8201) as both a monotherapy and combination therapy in HER2-expressing cancers. AstraZeneca is committing $1.35 billion in upfront payments and a further $5.5 billion in potential sales and regulatory milestone payments.
2019’s strong run of cell/gene therapy deals continued into March with the announcement of two major M&As. For a potential sum of $1.7 billion, Thermo Fisher is to acquire Brammer Bio, which specializes in the contract development and manufacturing of viral vectors. And Biogen announced its intention to acquire Oxford University spin-out Nightstar Therapeutics for $877 million. Nightstar is developing gene therapies for retinal disorders, and its lead candidate NSR-REP1 is in phase 3 trials for choroideremia.
And finally, Alexion Pharmaceuticals had a busy month, signing two deals in two days. On 20 March, Alexion teamed up with Affibody in a development deal including a $25 million upfront payment and up to $625 million in milestones to co-develop ABY-039, an antibody mimetic targeting rare IgG-mediated autoimmune diseases. The next day, Alexion signed a deal with Zealand Pharma to develop up to four peptide-based therapies for complement-mediated diseases, involving a $25 million upfront payment, a $15 million equity investment in Zealand Pharma and up to $610 million in regulatory and sales milestones for the first target. Zealand will lead the joint preclinical research efforts, with Alexion taking the lead from IND filing onwards.