Celgene buys into anticancer antibodies

US firms Celgene and OncoMed have tied up a deal to develop and commercialise biological therapies for cancer. The deal gives Celgene access to six antibody products in OncoMed’s pipeline, designed to target cancer stem cells rather than regular tumour cells. It also covers a small molecule development programme.

Celgene is paying $155 million (£95 million) in cash up front, as well as buying a $22.5 million slice of OncoMed’s equity. But the big money is in the potential payments that will be unlocked as the programmes meet developmental and regulatory milestones. The most advanced antibody, demcizumab, is currently in Phase 1b trials. If all goes to plan, the drug could net OncoMed $790 million, plus a share of any eventual sales. The other five programmes have milestone payments of $440–505 million attached, plus a potential $100 million for any small molecule that makes it through.

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