Roche ends licensing agreement with NewLink Genetics focused on IDO/TDO inhibitors

NewLink Genetics disclosed in a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday that Roche terminated in its entirety an agreement to jointly develop next-generation IDO/TDO compounds. The Swiss company returned the rights to the experimental IDO pathway inhibitor NLG919 to NewLink last year. 

Under the partnership, which was initially unveiled in 2014, Roche had agreed to potentially pay in excess of $1 billion to develop NLG919, in addition to collaborating on the discovery of next-generation IDO/TDO compounds.

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Upon terminating the agreement, Roche's rights will revert to NewLink with the company granting NewLink an exclusive global licence to develop, manufacture and commercialise the next-generation compounds, in addition to providing the latter drugmaker with certain data from research conducted on the compounds. Meanwhile, Roche will be eligible for a low single-digit royalty on the sales of any commercialised products.

The news comes after NewLink announced last month that it would not be starting the randomised portion of a late-stage study of the investigational IDO drug indoximod in combination with Merck & Co.'s Keytruda (pembrolizumab) or Bristol-Myers Squibb's Opdivo (nivolumab). The decision was based on a review initiated following the failure of a Phase III study of Incyte's IDO1 inhibitor epacadostat plus Keytruda in the treatment of unresectable or metastatic melanoma.

For related analysis, see ViewPoints: NewLink looks for new path forward.

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