Commercial Summit makes a $5B bet on Akenso’s bispecific antibody...

Summit makes a $5B bet on Akenso’s bispecific antibody to be fruitful


Summit Therapeutics has put its money where its mouth is and bet an astounding $5B bet on Akesio’s bispecific antibody. It includes $500M in cash upfront coming from the company that ended the last financial quarter with just $140M in cash and equivalents.

The past few years have been difficult for Summit Therapeutics as they saw two of their lead drugs be unsuccessful in mid-to-late stage clinical trials; ridinilazole (used for Clostridium difficile infection) and ezutromid (used for Duchenne muscular dystrophy). Ezutromid was let go after phase 2 data in 2018 while ridinilazole failed in a phase 3 study early in 2022.

This is one of the largest deals of the year, reminding one of AstraZeneca’s possible licensing pact for Daichii Sankyo’s TROP2 antibody-drug conjugate for $6B in 2020. 

The deal was announced on Tuesday and revolves around ivonescimab, a bispecific antibody that acts as a blood vessel growth inhibitor as well as a PD-1 blocker. It is also a continuation of Akesio’s Kaitanni, a PD-1/CTLA-4 bispecific, which was approved in China and is used for metastatic cervical cancer.

According to Summit, the bispecific’s goals could mean that it offers known immunotherapy benefits but with lesser side effects. An overall response rate of 68.4% was seen in data that was presented at ASCO. It is worth mentioning that the response rate was among patients who had NSCLC (non-small cell lung cancer) and had failed the EGFR-TKI treatment before. 8.2 months was the median progression-free survival when the medication was matched with combination chemotherapy against chemo alone.

CEO and co-founder of Akesio, Michelle Xia said, “Following intense and in-depth strategic, scientific, and operational discussion on ivonescimab between the Akeso and Summit teams in recent months, we are more confident than ever on a winning path for ivonescimab’s global development.”

Summit is also receiving something in exchange for the gargantuan offer, which is the development and commercialization rights of ivonescimab (called SMT112 in the states) in the United States, Europe, Japan, and Canada. According to the company, the treatment of lung cancer patients in clinical studies will be started by the 2nd quarter of the coming year.

The rights to develop and commercialize the therapy in China will remain with Akesio. Akesio will be making low double-digits in royalties on Summit’s sales. To aid finance the deal and the clinical development to follow, Summit is offering rights of $500M. 

The company is being loaned $520M from the co-CEOs Maky Zanganeh and Bob Duggan, both of whom gained significant monetary rewards when AbbVie bought Pharmacyclics (ex-employees of Pharmacyclics) for $21B back in 2015. However, nearly 96% of that loan is coming from Duggan ($500M) while Zanganeh’s share is only the remaining 4%. 

Akesio also mentioned that the raised funds will be directed towards other possible deals that could potentially further develop its pipeline.

The deal seemed to have a rather significant impact on Summit’s shares which rose by over 82%, crossing the $1 price mark to a share price of $1.43 on Tuesday.

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