Celgene and Sutro Partner on ADC Development

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Celgene expands its oncology drug discovery and development portfolio through a new partnership with Sutro.

Celgene announced it will expand its 2012 partnership with antibody developer Sutro to use Sutro’s cell-free protein synthesis platform in the discovery and development of multispecific antibodies and antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) pipeline candidates.

The company will use Sutro’s platforms to focus on immune-oncology targets PD-1 and PD-L1 as well as novel targets. Higher expression of PD-L1 may allow cancers to evade the host immune system, and the interactions between T cell coreceptor PD-1 and PD-L1 ligands are thought to be associated with more aggressive cancers.

“Substantive progress and unique advantages of Sutro’s platform have led us to expand and extend our relationship, as a key capability supporting our emerging immuno-oncology pipeline," said Thomas Daniel, MD, Celgene president of global research and early development, in a press release. "We see this collaboration as a unique opportunity to accelerate the evaluation and development of important products in this and other strategic areas of high potential impact.”

Under the agreed terms, Celgene will have the option to acquire Sutro and rights to all of its programs developed as a result of their agreement. If Celgene does not acquire Sutro, Sutro will retain US development and commercialization rights. Celgene will be responsible for the commercialization and global development of products, while Sutro will be responsible for the all early-stage research on antibodies and ADCs. Celgene will also have the option to extend the collaboration beyond the initial research term in exchange for additional funds.


Sutro will receive an upfront payment of $95 million, including equity payments, and may also receive up to an additional $90 million during the initial research term, including payments for manufacturing and productivity milestones. All said, Sutro estimates it may be eligible to receive more than $1 billion in total payments.

Sutro also has similar antibody target development deals with Merck KGaA’s EMD Serono unit and Pfizer.