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License to Pill: Biotech and pharma deals from Aug. 22-Sept. 4

Licensing deal activity slowed in the two weeks ended Sept. 4, with AbbVie Inc. and Gilead Sciences Inc. among the few companies inking agreements, according to data compiled by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Transactions during the two-week period mostly included collaborations for cancer treatments, as well as pacts for therapies for liver diseases, Duchenne muscular dystrophy and COVID-19.

North Chicago, Ill.-based AbbVie entered into the largest deal during the two-week span, agreeing to pay Shanghai-based I-Mab $180 million up front to jointly develop and commercialize the company's lemzoparlimab for treating multiple types of cancer. I-Mab may also receive up to $1.74 billion in success-based milestone payments — $840 million of which will be subject to clinical development and regulatory approval milestones.

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Gilead acquired rights to Jounce Therapeutics Inc.'s experimental cancer drug JTX-1811 for $85 million up front and $35 million in equity investment. Under the deal, Foster City, Calif.-based Gilead will receive the sole rights to JTX-1811 after clearance of the investigational new drug application to allow its use in human trials.

Cambridge, Mass.-based Jounce is also eligible to receive up to $685 million in payments dependent on meeting clinical, regulatory and commercial milestones, as well as royalties tied to worldwide sales.

JTX-1811 is an antibody that depletes tumor-infiltrating T regulatory, or TITR, cells by targeting a specific receptor present on TITR cells.

In addition, Santhera Pharmaceuticals Holding AG exercised its option to acquire global rights to the medicine vamorolone for all indications. Switzerland-based biotech Santhera signed updated deals with fellow Swiss company Idorsia Ltd., which holds the license to vamorolone, and Rockville, Md.-based ReveraGen BioPharma Inc., the original developer of the drug.

Meanwhile, Calithera Biosciences Inc. opted out of its global development obligations for experimental cancer drug INCB001158, leaving Incyte Corp. to bear all costs for the drug or any other licensed products. The companies inked an agreement in 2017 to share development and commercialization costs of certain drugs including INCB001158 in blood disorders and cancer.

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