Ono Pharmaceutical has entered an option and partnership agreement with Numab Therapeutics to develop and commercialise the multi-specific macrophage engager NM49 in the oncology field.

The deal grants Ono an option for the global development and marketing of NM49 while Numab will retain an opt-in right for co-development and marketing of the asset in the US.

Ono will make an undisclosed upfront payment to Numab.

If Ono exercises its option, the company will make milestone payments based on the progress of NM49’s development and commercialisation in addition to tiered royalties on net product sales.

Numab will lead the research and development of NM49 during the option period with Ono funding the related expenditures.

Ono Pharmaceutical discovery and research senior executive officer and executive director Toichi Takino stated: “We are very pleased to strengthen the partnership with Numab through the development and commercialisation of NM49 generated through Numab’s unique multi-specific antibody platform.

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“We are committed to the development and commercialisation of NM49 to deliver it as a new therapeutic option to patients as soon as possible by maximally utilising Ono’s deep immuno-oncology expertise.”

The companies entered a previous agreement in March 2022 to develop a multi-specific antibody drug candidate in the immuno-oncology area.

In December 2023, Ono signed a collaboration deal with EVQLV to leverage its artificial intelligence-powered antibody design engine, aiming to develop new antibody drugs.

The partnership with EVQLV was designed to harness advanced technology to generate therapeutic antibody designs for multiple targets chosen by Ono.

These designs form the basis for Ono to create potential antibodies and further their development and commercialisation efforts in the field of oncology.