USA — Pfizer, a leading pharmaceutical company, has signed an exclusive agreement with Nona Biosciences to develop HBM9033, an antibody-drug conjugate targeting the mesothelin protein in solid tumors.

The deal, announced on Thursday, includes substantial financial commitments. Under the terms of the agreement, Pfizer is set to make upfront and near-term payments totaling US$53 million to Nona Biosciences.

Additionally, the pharmaceutical giant is committed to providing up to US$1.05 billion in development and commercial milestone payments.

Nona Biosciences stands to benefit from tiered royalties on net sales, ranging from high-single digits to the high teens.

HBM9033, the focal point of the licensing agreement, has demonstrated “superior potency and safety” in preclinical studies across various tumor models.

Developed utilizing Nona’s innovative Harbour Mice platform, the investigational ADC targets the human mesothelin protein, a tumor-associated antigen prevalent in diverse solid tumors.

Nona Biosciences received FDA clearance for the Investigational New Drug application for HBM9033 in August 2023, paving the way for clinical studies.

The development of HBM9033 is attributed to Nona’s Harbour Mice platform, leveraging two proprietary transgenic mouse platforms for producing human therapeutic antibodies.

This technology holds immense potential for generating both conventional and next-gen biologics, positioning Nona Biosciences as a leader in therapeutic antibody discovery and development.

The agreement with Nona Biosciences follows Pfizer’s recent US$43 billion acquisition of ADC pioneer Seagen, which closed on the same day.

The acquisition enhances Pfizer’s cancer ADC portfolio, adding four FDA-approved drugs and nearly a dozen new molecules.

Despite attracting antitrust scrutiny, the acquisition successfully navigated regulatory hurdles earlier this week.

Pfizer’s strategic investments in ADCs come amid challenging financial times. The company’s 2024 outlook, revealed in the past week, anticipates flat or potentially decreased revenues compared to the current year.

In its third-quarter 2023 earnings report, Pfizer reported a 42% drop in revenues from the previous year, marking its first quarterly loss since 2019.

To counter financial challenges, Pfizer initiated a comprehensive cost-cutting program in October 2023, originally targeting US$3.5 billion in savings through 2024.

The program, now aimed at saving US$4 billion, includes significant measures such as layoffs.

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