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February 7, 2019

Taiho Pharmaceutical licences lung cancer drug to Cullinan Oncology

Japan-based Taiho Pharmaceutical has signed an agreement to licence its epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitor candidate TAS6417 for lung cancer to Cullinan Oncology.

Japan-based Taiho Pharmaceutical has signed an agreement to licence its epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitor candidate TAS6417 for lung cancer to Cullinan Oncology.

TAS6417 is an oral, tyrosine kinase inhibitor developed to target activating EGFR mutations.

Specifically, the candidate is designed to inhibit EGFR variants with exon 20 insertion mutations, without affecting wild-type EGFR.

It is intended for the treatment of non-small-cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) that is associated with EGFR exon 20 insertion mutations.

As part of the deal, Cullinan Oncology subsidiary Cullinan Pearl will get an exclusive, global licence to develop and commercialise the product in ex-Japan markets.

To develop TAS6417, Cullinan Pearl will leverage Cullinan Oncology’s shared service platform that is supported by a central management team and partner network.

“This alliance allows our organisation to optimise its R&D resource allocation and accelerate global development by accessing external talent and resources.”

Taiho Pharmaceutical managing director Teruhiro Utsugi said: “The Taiho’s drug research team created a unique molecule targeting EGFR Exon 20 insertion mutation using proprietary drug discovery platform technology.

“This alliance, one of the first of its kind at Taiho Pharmaceutical, allows our organisation to optimise its R&D resource allocation and accelerate global development by accessing external talent and resources.”

In return, Taiho Pharmaceutical will receive an upfront payment, regulatory and sales milestones, along with royalties based on net sales.

The Japanese specialty pharmaceutical company’s strategic corporate venture arm Taiho Ventures and Cullinan Oncology will invest in Cullinan Pearl during a Series A financing round.

Last month, Cullinan Oncology entered into a separate cancer drug development agreement with The Wistar Institute.

Under this deal, the company’s division Cullinan Apollo received an exclusive worldwide licence to develop and commercialise Wistar’s Epstein-Barr Nuclear Antigen 1 (EBNA1) inhibitor VK-2019.

Additional reporting by Allie Nawrat: 

Cullinan Oncology CEO Owen Hughes said: “We are excited to partner with Taiho Pharmaceutical and Taiho Ventures in exploring the utility of this novel drug in a patient population with limited options to date.

“We are thankful for Taiho’s trust in our team’s ability to execute the clinical development of this exciting asset.”

Alongside immunology and urology, oncology is the core area of Taiho’s business.

Other oncology drugs in its pipeline include TAS-102 for colorectal and gastric cancer, TAS-115 for prostate cancer and TAS-120 for cholangiocarcinoma.

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