Immuno-oncology deal sees firms exchange licensing rights for antibody drugs

US firm Celgene has partnered with Chinese biotech BeiGene to develop antibody cancer therapies. Celgene will pay $263 million (£204 million) in cash and buy $150 million in BeiGene shares (a 5.9% stake) to acquire rights to BeiGene’s investigational BGB-A317 antibody. The company will also pay up to $980 million in performance-based milestones, plus royalties on any eventual sales.

The companies will develop the drug together as a treatment for solid tumours, where it is already in clinical trials. Celgene will commercialise the drug for markets outside of Asia (but including Japan), while BeiGene retains the rights within Asia, as well as global rights to develop the drug for blood-borne cancers.

BeiGene will also take over Celgene’s commercial operations in China, and receive exclusive licences to commercialise three of Celgene’s already-approved small molecule cancer treatments in China: Abraxane (paclitaxel albumin-bound), Revlimid (lenalidomide) and Vidaza (azacitidine).