BioNTech has entered into a licencing agreement with MediLink Therapeutics for the development of an antibody-drug conjugate candidate against the human epidermal growth factor receptor 3 (HER3) expressed in non-small cell lung (NSCLC), breast and other cancers.

BioNTech will pay $70m (€66.44m) upfront to gain the global rights for development, manufacturing and commercialisation. However, MediLink will hold rights to the candidate’s development and commercialisation in Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau, based on a 12 October press release.

MediLink will also be entitled to up to $1bn in milestone-based payments for development, regulatory and commercial milestones, as per the press release.

The antibody-drug conjugate candidate is developed using MediLink’s tumour microenvironment activable linker (TMALIN) technology.

There have been 19 disclosed antibody-drug conjugate licensing deals signed in H1 2023 as per GlobalData analysis. In March, Pfizer acquired Seagen to gain access to the latter’s antibody-drug conjugates portfolio and technology.

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BioNTech also has a licensing agreement with Duality Biologics to develop multiple antibody-drug conjugates. These drugs are being evaluated for the treatment of NSCLC and other solid tumours.

BioNTech has reported a sharp decline in revenue in H1 2023, generating €1.44bn in the six months compared with €9.57bn in the same period in 2022, as per the company’s financials. The company mainly attributed this to the decline in Covid-19 vaccine sales compared with last year.

Despite declining Covid-19 vaccine sales, the German company scored a $3.2bn contract with the US Government to supply its Omicron-adapted Covid-19 vaccines, which were developed in conjunction with Pfizer. The updated vaccine was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for use in people aged 12 years and older.

This month, MediLink also partnered with NEXT Oncology for a US Phase I study of its other antibody-drug conjugate, YL201. The trial will evaluate the dosage and safety of YL201.