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Genmab broadens ADC pipeline with $1.8bn acquisition of ProfoundBio

Genmab announced today that it will acquire privately held biotech company ProfoundBio for $1.8bn in cash. The deal is designed to help the Danish pharmaceutical company deepen its cancer pipeline with next-generation antibody-drug conjugate therapies where the company has already an inlicensing deal with former Synaffix´s ADC technology platform (which was acquired mid of 2023 by Lonza).

The acquisition will give Genmab access to ProfoundBio’s portfolio of antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs), three of which are in clinical trials. The transaction, which has been approved by the boards of directors of both companies, is expected to close in the first half of this year, subject to various regulatory and antitrust approvals and other customary closing conditions.

“We believe ProfoundBio’s ADC candidates, proprietary technology platforms and talented team will be a great fit for Genmab,” CEO Jan van de Winkel said in a statement, adding that the deal will allow the combined companies to “accelerate the development of innovative, differentiated antibody therapies for cancer patients”.

ProfoundBio’s most advanced candidate is rinatabart sesutecan (Rina-S), a potentially first-in-class ADC that works by targeting the folate receptor alpha (FRα), which is commonly overexpressed in several solid tumours, according to the biotech’s website. Rina-S carries the topoisomerase I inhibitor exatecan as a toxic payload. Rina-S is currently in Phase II of a Phase I/II clinical trial designed to assess its therapeutic potential against ovarian and other FRα-expressing cancers. In January 2024, ProfoundBio announced that Rina-S had received Fast Track designation from the FDA for FRα-expressing high-grade serous or endometrioid platinum-resistant ovarian cancer.

Genmab will also gain access to ProfoundBio’s other pipeline assets, including the CD70-targeting PRO1106, which is being developed in renal cell carcinoma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and nasopharyngeal carcinoma, and the PTK7-targeting PRO1107, which is being evaluated in solid tumours.

Profound just in February closed a whooping oversubscribed series B financing round with $112m as contributions from world-class healthcare dedicated and mutual fund institutional investors, including Nextech Invest, T. Rowe Price, Janus Henderson Investors, RA Capital Management, and OrbiMed, among others.

Genmab is not new in the ADC space which gets hotter and hotter after the $43bn acquisition of Seagen by Pfizer and many more multibillion deals and acquisitions with playeers like Merck, Daichii Sankyo, BMS, Eli Lilly, ADC Therapeutics, GlycoEra, …, Heidelberg Pharma, Tubulis, BioNTech and some chinese grown ADC developers like MediLink and Duality Biologics. Also ProfoundBio is a chinese-american double play with headquarter in Seattle, Washington, but research site in Suzhou in the Shanghai region. (The European ADC players: see European Biotech News Magazine, 4-2023 “Hit it with your best shot”)

Genmab has partnerships in the ADC area even before with Seagen and ADC Therapeutics and others. In early 2022 Genmab and Synaffix BV had signed a license agreement providing Genmab broad access to Synaffix’s ADC technologies and exclusive research rights to utilize Synaffix ADC technologies for one drug target with the option for the worldwide development and commercialization of the resulting ADCs. Genmab had negotiated the option to exercise exclusive research and commercial licenses for additional targets. For each specific target nominated under the license agreement, Genmab should gain exclusive access to Synaffix’s clinical-stage GlycoConnect™ antibody conjugation technology, HydraSpace™ polar spacer technology, as well as select toxSYN™ linker-payloads, each designed to enable ADCs with best-in-class efficacy and tolerability for the development of multiple potential therapies. What happend to this deal after the acquisition of Synaffix by CDMO leader Lonza is not that clear. Now Genmab turns itself in a profound ADC player in the hottest deal making space of our time.