Ono Pharmaceutical has signed an exclusive licence agreement for the development and marketing of NEX-I’s new cancer therapy, NXI-101.

An antibody drug candidate, NXI-101 targets the cancer immunotherapy-resistant factor ONCOKINE-1.

The target was discovered through NEX-I leveraging its target screening ONCOKINE platform.

It has potential efficacy against a range of cancer types, including those resistant to current cancer immunotherapies.

Ono will gain exclusive global rights to NXI-101 and its backup antibodies.

NEX-I is eligible to receive upfront payment, development and commercialisation milestone payments, apart from tiered royalty payments based on net product sales.

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Ono Pharmaceutical discovery and research senior executive officer and executive director Toichi Takino stated: “We are pleased to collaborate with NEX-I having a proprietary ONCOKINE platform for development and commercialisation of NXI-101. We expect NXI-101 to be a new treatment option for cancer patients.

“Leveraging Ono’s experience and expertise in cancer immunotherapy, we will work on the development of the compound to add it to our development pipeline in oncology.”

A Korean biotechnology company established in 2021, NEX-I focuses on overcoming the limitations of standard cancer treatments by targeting the underlying causes of refractory cancers.

NEX-I CEO Kyoung Wan Yoon stated: “This collaboration aligns with NEX-I’s strategic focus on novel target discovery and the advancement of our flagship tumour microenvironment modulator, NXI-101.

“Through this landmark partnership, we underscore our commitment to identifying and developing novel and differentiated therapies that promise substantial benefits for patients.

“Our alliance with Ono represents a significant step forward for our ONCOKINE platform to assemble a diverse portfolio of clinical candidates across a broad range of mechanisms and therapeutic targets.”

The latest development comes after Ono entered a collaboration with Epsilon Molecular Engineering (EME) to advance drug discovery in the variable heavy domain of heavy chain antibodies.

The collaboration will utilise EME’s humanised VHH [the variable domain of heavy-chain IgG2 and IgG3] screening platform, known as The Month, to generate new antibodies for targets selected by Ono.