AbbVie inks $713m deal for OSE chronic inflammation drug


AbbVie has made another bolt-on deal in the immunology and inflammation category, paying $48 million upfront for rights to an antibody in preclinical development at OSE Immunotherapeutics.

There’s another $665 million in potential milestones and a royalty tied to the deal, which focuses on OSE-230, billed as a potentially first-in-class activator of ChemR23, a G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR) found on some white blood cells.

ChemR23 is thought to play a role in controlling inflammatory responses by immune cells, including macrophages and neutrophils. Activation of the receptor reprogrammes the cells into less inflammatory behaviour and could have potential as a therapeutic strategy for chronic inflammatory diseases and also – theoretically at least – to prevent progression in solid tumours and address treatment resistance.

One lab study of OSE-230 published in the Frontiers in Immunology journal last year showed that the drug was able to reprogramme macrophages to reduce inflammation, slow down the progression of disease, and extend survival in a mouse model of breast cancer.

“By leveraging our expertise in immunology drug development, we look forward to advancing OSE-230, which offers a novel mechanism-of-action to treat chronic inflammation,” said Jonathon Sedgwick, global head of discovery research at AbbVie. There’s no indication yet which indications will be targeted first for the antibody.

The licensing deal comes as AbbVie is weathering the impact of biosimilar competition to Humira (adalimumab), its big-selling immunology and inflammation brand used to treat a host of diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and inflammatory bowel disease.

Sales of Humira were more than $20 billion at one point, but fell to $14 billion last year and are expected to contract further this year with the launch of fully interchangeable biosimilars.

Along with two large-scale M&A deals signed in recent weeks - the takeovers of antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) company ImmunoGen and central nervous system specialist Cerevel for $10.1 billion and $8.7 billion, respectively – AbbVie has said it is interested in smaller licensing deals to bolster its pipeline.

Just last week, it paid $64 million upfront to Tentarix Biotherapeutics for a two-year alliance focused on biologics for diseases in immunology and oncology, while in January it struck a $1.44 billion deal with Umoja Biopharma to develop in situ CAR-T therapies for cancer.

Responsibility for taking the programmes forward will lie with chief executive-elect Robert Michael, who will take over from long-serving Richard Gonzalez on 1st July.