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AbbVie Partners With Chinese Biotech for Cancer Candidate

Zacks Equity Research

AbbVie Inc. ABBV announced that it has inked a global collaboration deal with China’s I-Mab IMAB for the development and commercialization of the latter’s lemzoparlimab (also known as TJC4) to treat multiple types of cancers. I-Mab shares were up 3.6% following this news on Friday.

Lemzoparlimab, an anti-CD47 monoclonal antibody, is being developed by the Chinese biotech in early-stage studies. The candidate produced encouraging results in a phase I study, which showed possible differentiation of lemzoparlimab in drug safety and a more favorable pharmacokinetics profile in cancer patients.

The study also demonstrated that treatment with lemzoparlimab as a single agent was well tolerated at a dose range of up to 30 mg/kg without any priming dose. Moreover, no severe hematologic adverse event was observed.

Per the agreement, AbbVie will make an upfront payment of $180 million to I-Mab for gaining exclusive rights to lemzoparlimab as well as a $20-million milestone fee for the positive results shown in the phase I -study. Moreover, I-Mab will be entitled to earn up to $840 million in future success-based clinical and development milestones and up to $900 million in commercial milestones as well as tiered low-to-mid-teen royalties on net sales.

Additionally, going by the deal, AbbVie will have an exclusive license to develop and commercialize lemzoparlimab globally excluding greater China. I-Mab will be responsible for developing and commercializing lemzoparlimab in the mainland China, Macau and Hong Kong. The partnership will enable both companies to opt for a potential collaboration on CD47-related therapeutic agents in the future.

We believe that the strategic partnership for I-Mab's novel CD47 programs complements AbbVie’s global clinical hold on hematology and immuno-oncology.

Shares of AbbVie have increased 3.7% so far this year against the industry’s decrease of 0.6%.

AbbVie continues to work on expanding and accelerating its presence in oncology. The company has been actively pursuing partnership deals and collaborations for candidates over time to boost its oncology/cancer portfolio. Management believes that oncology will be the company’s major growth driver over the next 10 years.

Notably, AbbVie has a partnership pact with Roche RHHBY for Venclexta and J&J JNJ for Imbruvica, both of which have been significant revenue catalysts for the company.

Imbruvica and Venclexta generated combined global revenues of $3.1 billion in the first six months of 2020, reflecting an increase of 28.9% on a year-over-year basis.

Notably, Imbruvica’s global revenues are expected to be $5.5 billion while Venclexta’s global sales are expected to be $1.3 billion in 2020.

Zacks Rank

AbbVie currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

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