Ichnos Sciences has, at last, found a potential buyer for its OX40 eczema venture, as Astria Therapeutics steps forward, offering an initial payment of $15 million and securing a position in the competitive race alongside industry giants Amgen and Sanofi.
Originating from New Jersey, Ichnos has been keen on establishing a partnership for its OX40 initiative ever since its inception. The program was made available for out-licensing just a year after its spin-off from Glenmark in 2019. During the pursuit of a suitable collaborator, Ichnos observed Sanofi’s acquisition of an OX40 contender through its $1.1 billion acquisition of Kymab, as well as Amgen’s substantial $400 million upfront payment to Kyowa Kirin to enter the same domain.
Now, Ichnos has ultimately struck a deal, although not reached the level of financial negotiation achieved by the major pharmaceutical players. The arrangement involves an upfront payment of $15 million, further supplemented by $20 million linked to clinical milestones, and an impressive $285 million earmarked for regulatory and commercial milestones, aligning with Astria’s specific asset preferences.
Ichnos completed a phase 2 trial for its lead candidate, telazorlimab, targeting OX40, in 2021. However, in Astria’s official deal announcement, telazorlimab received only minimal recognition. Astria is obtaining licensing rights for the entire OX40 portfolio, placing a strong emphasis on STAR-0310, a preclinical program expected to initiate human trials in early 2025.
Nevertheless, this schedule positions Astria years behind the industry leaders. Amgen has already commenced seven phase 3 clinical trials for its rocatinlimab candidate within the past 16 months, whereas Sanofi disclosed positive phase 2b outcomes in June.In contrast, clinical results for STAR-0310 in healthy volunteers are unlikely to be available until the third quarter of 2025. By that point, Amgen might have already acquired phase 3 data for rocatinlimab.
Astria’s deliberate choice to emphasize a preclinical program, instead of advancing telazorlimab into late-stage studies, could potentially grant them a distinct candidate status. The biotech perceives STAR-0310 as a leading prospect, highlighting its integration of half-life extension technology, likely reducing dosing frequency. Early indications of superior affinity, safety, and tolerability serve to reinforce their case.