Laekna makes third deal with Novartis, taking global rights to PD-L1 candidate



Shanghai-based biotech Laekna Therapeutics Shanghai Co., Ltd, signed with Novartis AG (NYSE.NVS) for exclusive global rights to the Swiss firm’s anti-programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) drug candidate FAZ053. No financial specifics were disclosed.

Originated by Novartis, FAZ053 has previously completed Phase I clinical trials demonstrating safety and efficacy in patients with a range of solid tumors. The checkpoint inhibitor binds to PD-L1 on tumor cells, preventing their binding to PD-1 receptor on T-cells and thereby inhibiting tumor immune evasion. Laekna states that it aims to put the drug into combination therapies with chemotherapies or targeted small molecule drugs, and has already planned several strategies focused on cancers that are resistant to checkpoint inhibitor treatments.

The deal is the third time that Laekna has picked up global rights to oncology candidates from Novartis. In July 2017, Novartis handed over the CYP17 inhibitor CFG920, an oral androgen inhibitor designed to treat prostate cancer; and Laekna picked up two former GlaxoSmithKline oncology drugs, the oral pan-Akt kinase inhibitors afuresertib (ASB183) and uprosertib (UPB795) in an August 2018 deal previously reported by GBI. That deal led to Novartis taking an undisclosed equity stake in Laekna, which was established in 2016 and secured USD 18.5 million in Series A backing, led by OrbiMed Asia, in 2018.

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China-based biotech Laekna Inc., announced an agreement with Swiss firm Novartis Pharma AG that grants exclusive global development and commercialization rights to two clinical-stage candidates.
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