Xencor to Develop and Commercialize Novel IL-15 Immune Activating Cytokines with Genentech

Xencor announced it has entered into a research and license agreement with Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, to develop and commercialize novel IL-15 cytokine therapeutics, including XmAb®24306. XmAb24306 is an IL-15/IL-15Rα cytokine complex engineered with Xencor’s bispecific Fc domain and Xtend™ Fc technology and is Xencor’s most advanced preclinical cytokine program.

“This partnership with Genentech accelerates our immuno-oncology work by enabling the exploration of novel XmAb24306 combinations with Genentech’s leading oncology portfolio and our growing internal pipeline of bispecific antibodies,” said Bassil Dahiyat, Ph.D., president and chief executive officer at Xencor. “A wide-ranging combination strategy will be critical to realize the potential of IL-15 bispecific cytokines such as XmAb24306, so we plan to explore our cytokines with a broad spectrum of leading commercial-stage and investigational cancer therapies.”

“We believe cytokine therapy will play an important role in the treatment of a wide range of diseases, including cancer,” said James Sabry, M.D., Ph.D., global head of Pharma Partnering, Roche. “This collaboration with Xencor will further enhance our understanding of a critical immune activation pathway and may present a potential new way to use the immune system to target cancer.”

IL-15 is a highly active cytokine, or immune signaling protein, that when pre-complexed with IL-15 receptor alpha (IL-15Rα) will bind to IL-15Rβγ and stimulate the expansion and activation of natural killer (NK) cells and cytotoxic T cells, but with reduced regulatory T cell activation compared to IL-2. Xencor’s IL-15 bispecific cytokine platform provides a more druggable version of IL-15 with potentially superior tolerability, slower receptor-mediated clearance and a prolonged half-life, and is intended for development with a wide range of combination agents due to its proposed mechanism of activating tumor-killing immune cells.

Under the terms of the agreement, the companies will co-develop XmAb24306 and other potential IL-15 programs, in which the companies will share development costs and profits. Genentech will commercialize medicines worldwide, and Xencor has the option to co-promote in the United States. Additionally, the companies will engage in a two-year research program to discover new IL-15 drug candidates, including ones targeted to specific immune cell populations. Genentech will pay Xencor $120 million upfront, and Xencor will be eligible to receive up to $160 million in development milestones for the XmAb24306 program and up to $180 million in development milestones for each new IL-15 drug candidate.

The agreement is subject to customary closing conditions, including clearance under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act, and closing is expected to occur in the first half of 2019.

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