Commercial Sutro and Astellas enter partnership for development of immunostimulatory...

Sutro and Astellas enter partnership for development of immunostimulatory ADCs


Sutro Biopharm and Astellas Pharma have entered a strategic, global partnership and licensing agreement for the purpose of discovering and developing new iADCs (immunostimulatory antibody-drug conjugates).

According to the agreement, each product candidate could make Sutro eligible for milestone payment inflows of up to $422.5M.

Sutro Biopharm is a clinical-stage oncology company based out of Southern San Francisco, California.

 The company specializes in site-specific and novel-format ADCs. Sutro is also collaborating with three additional companies to work on the development of multiple ADCs. It is working with Bristol Myers Squibb, Merck and Merck Sharpe & Dohme LLC, working on ADCs called CC-99712, M1231 and MK-1484 respectively. 

Astellas Pharma is a Japanese pharmaceutical company that is based out of Chuo City, Tokyo, Japan, and conducts business in over 70 countries.

An iADC combines an antibody with a small molecule compound that provokes immunogenic cell death and a molecule that is immune-activating. It can possibly improve the anti-cancer effect.

The agreement came into being to see the cancer-fighting potential of iADCs as a new method of treatment, along with Sutro’s expertise to develop composite conjugated antibodies and Astellas’ R&D capabilities.

The agreement will enable the companies to work on the development of iADCs, a next-gen modality with the potential for the treatment of cold tumors using efficient methods, providing new drug therapies for those patients who have to respond to existing treatments.

Both companies have different roles to play in the discovery and development of new iADCs. Sutro is to manage the preclinical research and detect candidate compounds while Astellas is to use that and carry out the clinical development.

According to the deal, Sutro is to get $90M cash payment upfront to be used for developing iADCs for three biological targets. 

An additional $422.5M per product candidate will be entitled to the company on meeting different milestones that include commercial, development and regulatory milestones.

Sutro will also be the recipient of tiered royalties on the global sales of commercial products, the amount of which will depend on the expense and profit-sharing ratio predefined in the deal. 

If Sutro chooses to exercise this option for a specific product, both the companies will share the expenses equally of the development and marketing. The companies will similarly share the profits or losses equally, from the co-marketing in the US.

Astellas and Twist Bioscience got into an exclusive option license agreement and research partnership in May, for the development of antibodies to decrease tumor microenvironment-mediated immunosuppression.

Astellas’ Chief Strategy Officer, Naoki Okamura said that one of the company’s primary focus of its R&D strategy is on Immuno-Oncology and it aims to bring drugs that are effective for patients who find existing drugs ineffective. He also said that this agreement with Sutro will enable Astellas to expand its channels and improve the choice of cancer immunotherapies.

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