Johnson & Johnson Innovative Medicine (J&J) has entered into a licensing agreement with South Korean LegoChem Biosciences to develop and commercialise LCB84, in a deal potentially worth $1.7bn.

LegoChem will receive $100m in upfront payment along with an option exercise payment of $200m in milestone-based payments and tiered royalties on net sales. The companies will also collaborate on the ongoing Phase I/II trial investigating LCB84, with J&J bearing sole responsibility for clinical development and commercialisation after option exercise.

LCB88 is an antibody drug conjugate (ADC) directed against Trop2, which is overexpressed in gastric cancer. LegoChem licensed the therapy from the Italian start-up Mediterranea Theranostic in 2021.

ADCs have been identified as a key innovation area by GlobalData, with multiple companies investing in these therapies. In October, Merck & Co (MSD) partnered with Daiichi Sankyo to develop and commercialise three of the latter’s DXd ADC candidates, potentially spending up to $22bn on the partnership.

GlobalData is the parent company of Pharmaceutical Technology.

In October, LegoChem partnered with Glycotope to develop an ADC, with the former gaining the developmental and commercialisation rights. In 2022, the company partnered with Amgen to develop and commercialise up to five ADCs, with targets chosen by Amgen. The same year, it signed a collaboration and co-development agreement with NextCure to develop a B7-H4 ADC and features options for two further targets.

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By GlobalData

J&J also made a play for the global rights of Nanobiotix’s radioenhancer oncology drug, NBTXR3. In July, J&J acquired global development and commercialisation rights for NBTXR3 from Nanobiotix for $30m in an upfront cash licensing fee. LianBio held these rights in Greater China, Singapore, Thailand, and South Korea which were acquired by J&J earlier this week (26 December).

J&J made a one-time payment of $25m to LianBio. The latter would also be eligible to receive a sales milestone payment of $5m. Several studies evaluating NBTXR3 in multiple solid tumour indications are currently underway, including Nanobiotix and LianBio’s Phase III NANORAY-312 (NCT04892173), for treating patients with locally advanced head and neck cancer. The study is expected to complete in July 2024, as per