Adimab Teams Up With Celgene, Innovent, in Latest Partnership Deals

Xconomy Boston — 

Adimab turned a corner in July when two big drugmakers agreed to license the technology surrounding its yeast-based process for discovering antibodies, and bring it in-house. While the Lebanon, NH-based company isn’t duplicating those results today, it is bringing two new names into its growing list of partners who have agreed to at least “kick the tires” with its antibody drug discovery technology.

Adimab is announcing that Summit, NJ-based Celgene, and China-based Innovent Biologics, have become the latest companies to tap into its antibody discovery engine. Adimab hasn’t disclosed the size of either deal, but they are similar to the many small partnerships it has signed with the likes of Novartis, Merck, Roche, Gilead Sciences, and several others in the past. Celgene, for instance, will identify “multiple” biological targets for Adimab to discover antibodies against, and get the option to license those antibodies from Adimab for a fee. Adimab, in return, stands to receive an unspecified check up front, and then get some more cash down the road from milestones those antibodies hit as they make their way through clinical development. Adimab would also get a percentage royalty should any of those antibodies become drugs sold on the market.

Adimab’s deal with Innovent, an antibody manufacturer, is slightly different. The transaction only involves one specific antibody that Adimab would discover for a specific biological target. But while Innovent would develop the antibody, Adimab would reimburse the Chinese company for some of those costs, and retain the rights to commercialize the antibody drug in the U.S., Europe, and Japan. Innovent would keep the rights to sell the drug in China, with Adimab getting a percentage of the associated royalties in that territory.

The deals put more cash in the bank for Adimab at a time when the company, led by by CEO and Dartmouth College professor Tillman Gerngross, has just become cash flow positive. Just a few weeks ago, Adimab struck its two biggest deals to date when GlaxoSmithKline and Cambridge, MA-based Biogen Idec agreed to not just test out the company’s drug discovery technology on a few targets, but take it in-house, and use it to help create pipelines of antibody drugs. With those deals in hand, Gerngross said at the time that Adimab was on track to now generate revenue of between three and five times its $15 million to $20 million in operating expenses this year.

Adimab is using these payment streams to give its investors—-Polaris Partners, Google Ventures, SV Life Sciences, and OrbiMed Advisors—a full return on the roughly $50 million they’ve poured into the company by next year, and begin distributing profits to those shareholders through dividends.