Servier is offering OSE Immunotherapeutics up to €272M to get hold of an antibody therapy for autoimmune diseases, an area where it will encounter major competitors.
OSE Immunotherapeutics, created last May through the merger of OSE Pharma and Effimune, is a French biotech company developing immunotherapies for oncology, autoimmune diseases, and transplantation. The company recently announced a license option agreement with Servier, France’s leading independent pharma company.
The deal concerns Effi-7, a therapeutic antibody that targets the IL-7 receptor in order to block pathogenic T lymphocytes involved in autoimmune diseases. Servier will pay €10M upfront in a deal that could reach up to €272M in exchange for a license option on the exclusive worldwide rights of Effi-7.
The candidate is currently in pre-clinical stage as a treatment for ulcerative colitis, and OSE Immunotherapeutics will be taking charge of its development until Phase II with funds from Bpifrance, a government agency. Servier will take over after Phase II and is also planning to start preclinical studies to treat Sjögren syndrome, the second most frequent autoimmune disease, for which there’s no cure.
The deal seems relatively low for a drug with the potential to treat several autoimmune diseases. However, the candidate is still in an early stage and the risk is still very high. Even if development goes well, Servier will have to compete with strong players. In ulcerative colitis, Galapagos is way ahead with a Phase IIb/III clinical trial recently started while Johnson & Johson’s Remicade (infliximab) is already in the market. In Sjögren’s syndrome BMS’s Orencia, currently in Phase III, will likely be its biggest rival, with Novartis and a partnership between MedImmune and Amgen following closely.
Meanwhile, the funds will likely help OSE advance its pipeline, currently led by Tedopi, a treatment for metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) now in Phase III. With a strong focus on immuno-oncology, OSE Immunotherapeutics might make a difference in a much bigger market. Watch our interview with its CEO, Dominique Costantini, for more details on the company’s plan.
Images from Tefi/Shutterstock and OSE Immunotherapeutics