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J&J’s Janssen inks $1B biobucks pact for Mersana’s ADC tech in 3 targets

February 4, 2022
Life sciences

After expanding its antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) deal with Synaffix last November to the tune of $1 billion, Mersana Therapeutics is back with another major deal. This time, Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen unit is doling out $40 million upfront and more than $1 billion in biobucks for ADCs spanning three targets.

The pair will work together to research target candidates during preclinical development. J&J’s biotech unit will provide proprietary antibodies, and Mersana will contribute its Dolasynthen platform to help find the new ADC product candidates.

After preclinical work is completed, Janssen will take over and handle the therapies’ clinical development and commercialization. Should any of them reach the market, Mersana will receive mid-single-digit to low-double-digit percentage royalties on global sales.

The deal strengthens the financial position of the biotech, which has a wholly owned pipeline of ADCs, Mersana President and CEO Anna Protopapas said in a statement. The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company had $192 million in cash and equivalents as of the latest quarter, Mersana said in November 2021.

Mersana’s lead ADC, upifitamab rilsodotin, is currently being tested in a phase 3 trial as a maintenance therapy for recurrent, platinum-sensitive ovarian cancer. It is also being studied in platinum-resistant ovarian tumors through a single-arm pivotal study as well as under an early-stage umbrella trial in combination with other ovarian cancer therapies.

The deal with Janssen comes a few months after Mersana expanded its own ADC collaboration with Synaffix. In that deal, Mersana could be the one paying out more than $1 billion in exchange for access to the Dutch biotech’s site-specific platform for six additional ADC targets. The original deal, valued at $295 million, included one target in 2019.

Meanwhile, Synaffix also hatched a $415 million biobucks pact with Genmab last month.

by Kyle LaHucik


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