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US-based Aveo Oncology has entered an exclusive and worldwide licence agreement with Swiss drugmaker Novartis to develop and commercialise AV-380 and related antibodies, including modified or derivative forms.

AV-380 is Aveo’s first-in-class, potent and humanised inhibitory antibody being developed to target growth differentiation factor 15 (GDF15).

It is expected to be a potential treatment for cachexia, which is a complex metabolic syndrome associated with malnutrition and severe involuntary weight loss due to the loss of muscle and fat tissue. It is also associated with the clinical manifestation of anaemia, inflammation and suppression of immune functions.

GDF15 is a pro-inflammatory cytokine, which its elevated circulating levels correlated with cachexia in cachectic cancer patients and multiple animal models of cancer cachexia.

Aveo Oncology president and CEO Michael Bailey said: "AV-380 holds great promise as a potential treatment for cachexia secondary to multiple disease states, including cancer, chronic kidney disease, congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

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"AV-380 holds great promise as a potential treatment for cachexia secondary to multiple disease states."

"Novartis brings resources and expertise to bear on advancing this programme, which we believe provides the optimal path forward toward realising its full potential."

As part of the deal, Novartis will pay $15m upfront, as well as reimbursement, clinical, sales and regulatory-based milestone payments worth about $311m based on successful advancement of the product.

In addition, Aveo is eligible to secure tiered royalties on product sales ranging from high single digits to a low double-digit.

Novartis will take responsibility for all clinical development, manufacturing and commercialisation activities and costs associated with the product.

Image: Novartis headquarters in Basel. Photo: courtesy of Andrew.