Halozyme Inks $105M Bristol-Myers Partnership, Expands Roche Deal

Xconomy San Diego — 

Halozyme Therapeutics has turned a method of delivering a drug more conveniently into partnerships with several large pharmaceutical companies that want to see their infusible drugs delivered via injections instead. The San Diego biotech company’s list of alliances is now getting longer.

Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE: BMY) announced Thursday that it will pay $105 million up front to license Halozyme’s (NASDAQ: HALO) technology to develop injectable immuno-oncology drugs. Depending on the progress of those compounds, Halozyme stands to gain future milestone payments, as well as royalties from sales. The deal covers up to 11 potential drugs, including a class of cancer immunotherapy treatments called PD-1 inhibitors. Bristol already sells one of the top PD-1 blockers on the market, nivolumab (Opdivo).

Halozyme also expanded an existing relationship with Roche via a new deal. The Swiss pharma giant is paying Halozyme $30 million to develop a drug for an undisclosed therapeutic target. Halozyme could earn up to $160 million in future payments if the therapy progresses, and would get royalties from the drug’s sales.

Halozyme’s Enhanze technology uses an engineered copy of a human enzyme called hyaluronidase to temporarily degrade a chain of natural sugars in the body. This approach, the company says, increases the dispersion and the absorption of a therapeutic compound, allowing an IV drug to be administered by injection. The advantage of an injectable drug is time and convenience. IV infusions can take 90 minutes or more, depending on the drug. Converting IV drugs to injectables can shorten that time to minutes. Halozyme also says its injectable formulations can reduce the number of treatments a patient needs.

The Roche deal announced Thursday builds on one of Halozyme’s longest business relationships. In 2006, Roche licensed Halozyme’s technology to develop up to 13 compounds. So far, the collaboration has yielded injectable formulations of Roche cancer drugs trastuzumab (Herceptin) and rituximab (MabThera).

Halozyme also collaborates with Baxalta (NYSE: BXLT), which uses Halozyme’s technology to administer its immune globulin infusion Hyqvia. Partnerships in earlier stages of clinical development include deals with Eli Lilly (NYSE: LLY), AbbVie (NYSE: ABBV), Pfizer (NYSE: PFE), and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) subsidiary Janssen Biotech.

IHalozyme is developing its own drugs as well. Its lead candidate, PEGPH20, is in clinical trials as a potential treatment for various cancers.

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