Taiho Pharmaceutical has exercised an option for an exclusive licence to develop and commercialise Arcus Biosciences’ quemliclustat (AB680) in Japan and Asian territories, excluding mainland China.

This is the fourth time Taiho has opted into an Arcus programme under the ongoing collaboration between the two companies which began in 2017.

Taiho will make an option exercise payment.

Additional milestones payments are contingent on meeting clinical, regulatory and commercial goals.

Taiho will also pay royalties on net sales if the product is approved.

An investigational small molecule CD73 inhibitor, quemliclustat is being investigated as a potential treatment for metastatic pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (mPDAC).

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Arcus plans to launch the global, registrational Phase III study PRISM-1 in 2024, which will assess quemliclustat plus chemotherapy against chemotherapy alone in previously untreated mPDAC patients.

The decision to progress to Phase III trials stems from promising overall survival results from the Phase Ib ARC-8 study.

With this licensing agreement, Taiho will support the development and potential commercialisation of quemliclustat and will also manage the operational aspects of the PRISM-1 study in Japan.

Taiho has already secured exclusive development and commercialisation rights for four Arcus programmes in Japan and Asian regions excluding mainland China.

These include the CD73 inhibitor programme (quemliclustat), the dual A2a/b adenosine receptor antagonist programme (etrumadenant), the anti-PD-1 programme (zimberelimab), and the anti-TIGIT programme (domvanalimab and AB308).

Gilead Sciences holds the rights to commercialise quemliclustat in the US and co-promote with Arcus, as well as exclusive rights to develop and commercialise the product outside the US.