BioNTech adds antibody-drug conjugates to cancer portfolio with potential $1.5B partnership deal


BioNTech SE and Duality Biologics (Suzhou) Co. Ltd. have entered into exclusive license and collaboration agreements for two antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) assets to develop, manufacture and commercialize the two assets globally, excluding mainland China, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and Macau Special Administrative Region. 

With this collaboration, ADCs will become an additional drug class in BioNTech’s oncology portfolio with the aim of further supporting BioNTech’s mission of developing efficacious therapies for cancer patients at every stage of disease. 

ADCs are a class of potent cancer therapies combining the selectivity of antibodies with the cell-killing properties of chemotherapy or other anti-cancer agents.

As part of the collaboration, BioNTech will gain access to DualityBio’s lead candidate, DB-1303, a topoisomerase-1 inhibitor-based ADC directed against human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2). HER2 is a target that is overexpressed in a variety of cancers, which contributes to the aggressive growth and spread of cancer cells. 

Antibody therapy targeting HER2 has been shown to be an effective treatment strategy for HER2-expressing cancers. The DB-1303 program received the Fast Track designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is currently in a phase 2 clinical trial for HER2-expressing advanced solid tumors. 

BioNTech will also gain access to a second topoisomerase-1 inhibitor-based ADC candidate, DB-1311. 

BioNTech bets on ADCs

“Over the last years, the ADC field has made significant progress, overcoming several limitations and demonstrating its potential as a broadly applicable precision medicine drug class that might be an alternative to standard chemotherapy,” said Ugur Sahin, chief executive officer and co-founder of BioNTech. 

“The addition of these two ADCs to our portfolio strengthens our pipeline of immunotherapies and expands our capabilities with the aim to provide therapeutic benefits for patients with a range of solid tumors, along the entire patient journey.”

John Zhu, founder and CEO of DualityBio, said: “This is a recognition of not only DualityBio’s next-generation ADC platform, but also its internal discovery and development capabilities. With this strategic partnership, we are committed to working together to advance the development of innovative therapies for the benefit of patients worldwide.”

BioNTech payments

Under the terms of the agreements, DualityBio will receive upfront payments for both asset licenses totaling $170 million, and additional development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments for both assets, potentially totaling more than $1.5 billion. 

DualityBio will be eligible to receive single-digit to double-digit tiered royalties on net sales for both ADC assets. BioNTech will hold commercial rights globally (excluding mainland China, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and Macau Special Administrative Region), while DualityBio will retain commercial rights for mainland China, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and Macau Special Administrative Region. 

As part of the agreement for DB-1311, DualityBio has the right to exercise a co-development cost and profit/loss sharing option for DB-1311 for the U.S. market, as well as a co-promotion option for the U.S. market.

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