This morning biotech company Leap Therapeutics Inc. (LPTX:NASDAQ) and commercial-stage biopharmaceutical firm BeiGene Ltd. (BGNE:NASDAQ; 06160:HKEX), which is focused on developing and commercializing innovative molecularly targeted and immuno-oncology drugs for the treatment of cancer, announced "an exclusive option and license agreement for the clinical development and commercialization of DKN-01, Leap's anti-Dickkopf-1 (DKK1) antibody, in Asia (excluding Japan), Australia, and New Zealand." The report indicated that Leap will retain all development, manufacturing, and commercialization rights for DKN-01 in the rest of the world. Leap additionally advised that it has entered into a $27 million equity financing agreement with BeiGene and two other institutional investors.
The report indicated that under the terms of the agreement, "Leap will receive an upfront cash payment of $3 million from BeiGene in exchange for granting BeiGene an option to an exclusive license to develop and commercialize DKN-01 in Asia (excluding Japan), Australia, and New Zealand, and will be eligible to receive an additional payment from BeiGene upon BeiGene's exercise of the option following initial proof-of-concept studies." If certain development, regulatory and sales milestones are met the licensing deal's value could increase to as much as $132 million along with tiered royalties on product sales of DKN-01 in the licensed territories. BeiGene will also invest $5 million in Leap as part of the $27 million equity financing plan, which is projected to close on or before January 8, 2020.
Leap Therapeutics' President and CEO Christopher K. Mirabelli, Ph.D., commented, "Securing a collaboration to further develop DKN-01 has been our top strategic priority, and we are excited to begin working with BeiGene, a global leader in oncology...BeiGene is the ideal partner for Leap given its extensive experience in the development of oncology drugs throughout Asia Pacific, where its expertise and product breadth can help us in our efforts to address serious unmet medical needs in esophagogastric, gynecologic, and other cancers."
Yong (Ben) Ben, M.D., chief medical officer, immuno-oncology at BeiGene, added, "We are excited about the potential to combine our anti-PD-1 inhibitor tislelizumab with DKN-01 as there have been promising signals in a biomarker-defined population of gastric cancer patients in combination with checkpoint blockade...This collaboration with Leap is another example of our commitment to developing novel treatments to address unmet medical needs in Asia and around the world."
Leap Therapeutics is headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., and focuses primarily on developing targeted and immuno-oncology therapeutics. The firm's monoclonal antibodies are designed to target key cellular pathways that enable cancer to grow and proliferate, known as cancer cell signaling, and pathways that help the body's immune system to identify and treat cancer. The company states that "its most advanced clinical candidate, DKN-01, is a humanized monoclonal antibody targeting the Dickkopf-1 protein, a Wnt pathway modulator and that DKN-01 is in clinical trials in patients with esophagogastric, hepatobiliary, gynecologic, and prostate cancers."
BeiGene was established in Beijing, China, in 2010. The company employs 3,300 people in China, the U.S., Australia and Europe and also has corporate offices in the Cayman Islands. The firm describes its business as a "global, commercial-stage, research-based biotechnology company focused on molecularly-targeted and immuno-oncology cancer therapeutics that is advancing a pipeline consisting of novel oral small molecules and monoclonal antibodies for cancer." The company's main products include Zanubrutinib (BGB-3111), Tislelizumab (BGB-A317) and Pamiparib (BGB-290). The firm also markets several pharmaceutical products in China licensed from Celgene Corp. including ABRAXANE, REVLIMID and VIDAZA.
Leap Therapeutics began the day with a market capitalization of approximately about $25.6 million with about 24.2 million outstanding shares. LPTX shares opened nearly 36% higher today at $1.44 (+$0.38, +35.89%) over yesterday's $1.06 closing price. The stock has traded today between $1.32 and $1.95 per share on very high volume and currently is trading at $1.68 (+$0.62, +58.54%).[NLINSERT]
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