The $100 million question is:
Is Agenus involved with this platform?
AGENUS IS ELIGIBLE TO RECEIVE ~$100 MILLION IN MILESTONE PAYMENTS AS WELL AS ROYALTIES ON WORLDWIDE PRODUCT SALES
Lexington, MA – April 28, 2014
Agenus Inc. (NASDAQ: AGEN) announced today that the company has entered into a collaboration and license agreement with Merck, known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, through a subsidiary, for the discovery and development of therapeutic antibodies to immune checkpoints for the treatment of cancer. Under the terms of the agreement, Agenus will discover and optimize fully human antibodies against two undisclosed Merck checkpoint targets using the 4-Antibody Retrocyte Display® platform. Merck will be responsible for clinical development and commercialization of candidates generated under the collaboration.
Do we ever announce big news at investor conferences like next week's? I don't think we'll hear much of anything next week... but I hope I'm wrong. Best I'd expect is maybe a trial update?
Ugh, they'd better not attempt their own P3. Too expensive - imagine the cap raise [dilution] they'd need, esp. given their historic inability to negotiate up-front payments.
I don't agree with Zheng that the India trial was a failure. That said, we have yet to get the kind of TKO results the BPs pay billion$ for.
Nick Zheng, another paid pumper for SA and author of a previous article on ADXS, wrote this in the comments:
"The biggest issue is that after careful examination of ADXS-HPV phase II trial in India, the trial may be a total failure, which was done with many red flags. I have written an article on it months ago, and the management could not answer my questions about the toxicity issues about two positive arms. So no follow up articles from me. The collaboration with Merck is nothing, absolutely nothing. Have you seen a collaboration with a pharm giant when the partner only provides testing drug only, and it is worth a PR?
All those PRs and articles are useless without validated trial data."
One could also pessimistically see this as just more slick showmanship from DO, or at least the cancellation of a dumb contract written in a previous mgmt era.
It's all upside for ADXS near-term. DO just said "I *could* pay you $1m next month, or $10m next year." The former ADXS would actually Penn, per the old contract... the latter - well, there's a slim chance we'll actually get to market in Europe and U.S. someday, I guess.
Whatever he told Penn worked, because now he won't have to fork over $400k when he starts the Phase III that was NEVER PART OF THE OLD PLAN. We were supposed to be bought or licensed after Phase II. I maintain that we cannot afford a Phase III trial. Big Pharma will have to shoulder that.
And DO, knowing that the canine osteosarcoma veterinary indication will likely get approved through Aratana, got smarter language into place to avoid the $600k milestone payment.
Gregory T. Mayes, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, commented, "We are grateful to Penn [for believing us when we say that $1m @ a 50% probability this year isn't nearly as good as $10m with a 5% probability next year]."
From his Biotech Stock Mailbag:
"Inovio has you fooled into believing a comparison between VGX-3100 and a placebo is important. ... Companies like Transgene and Advaxis have tried to develop non-invasive treatments for cervical dysplasia but have failed because they can't match the efficacy of simple, outpatient surgery. Inovio will fail, too..."
My educated guess would be "generally under $1M for a Phase I," based on articles I've read such as Avik Roy's series in Forbes.
Phase IIIs are the killer, cost-wise. Only BPs can take them on and survive failure, IMO.
Google the Journal of Immunotherapy article
"Anti-PD-1 antibody significantly increases therapeutic efficacy of Listeria monocytogenes (Lm)-LLO immunotherapy"
Can you tell whether MedImmune's investigational anti-PD-L1 immune checkpoint inhibitor, MEDI4736, was what Georgia Regents used in their study?
Is today's Phase I announcement a continuation of Dr. Kleif's successful work with ADXS?
...short of brain, I can't read medical papers without going cross-eyed.
Phase I's are cheap, though. Not a huge outlay.
Likely the estimated costs and full deal terms were in that Confidential Treatment order filed with the SEC last week.