Regulatory Coherus Expands Beyond Biosimilars with $65M Acquisition

Coherus Expands Beyond Biosimilars with $65M Acquisition


Despite being best recognized for its biosimilars business, Coherus has been trying to position itself as a leader in immuno-oncology. Two of the company’s own investigational medications are being tested in clinical trials. One focuses on the “PD-1” protein, which is the source of popular drugs like Keytruda from Merck & Co. The FDA has yet to decide whether to approve the medication as a therapy for cancer that affects the region around the nose and neck. The other medicine developed by Coherus targets “TIGIT,” a protein that has recently received significant interest from those working on immunotherapies.

Coherus is expanding its portfolio in immune-oncology with a $65 million deal to acquire Surface Oncology. The acquisition adds Surface’s IL-27-targeted antibody, SRF388, and CCR8-targeted antibody, SRF114, bringing Coherus’ clinical-stage immuno-oncology assets total to four. With this latest addition, Coherus has determined to diversify its revenue streams beyond the biosimilars industry, which has been the company’s main source of income.

Coherus is selling a portion of its stock to pay for the transaction, which also involves the biotech’s current cash, between $20 million and $25 million, and the $40 million in outstanding Surface shares. Surface stockholders will be entitled to 25% of upfront payments for any ex-U.S. rights to SRF114 and 50% of upfront payments for ex-U.S. rights to SRF388, as well as 70% of milestone and royalty-based value from current relationships with Novartis and GSK.

The acquisition, unanimously authorized by the companies’ senior leadership, is anticipated to be completed by the third quarter of 2022.

Coherus will delayer roughly half of Surface’s workers, the second round of layoffs in the past eight months. In November, Surface terminated a fifth of its employees after finishing the development of the CD39-targeting antibody SRF617.

The FDA is about to approve Coherus’ PD-1 inhibitor, toripalimab, which might be the company’s first authorized non-biosimilar medicine. This coincides with the inclusion of Surface’s I-O medications. The drug was approved for use in China after receiving a license from Junshi. Additionally, Coherus is creating anti-TIGIT CHS-006, a Junshi medicine currently in phase 1/2 studies.

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