Celyad cuts deal with Ono Pharmaceutical on immunotherapy treatment

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Japan’s Ono Pharmaceutical will license a cancer treatment of Celyad. The collaboration is very welcome, as two weeks ago, the Walloon company had to share disappointing results of C-Cure, a stem cell therapy for heart failure. Ono Pharmaceutical already placed Opdivo on the market, a very promising cancer immunotherapy.

Ono Pharmaceutical will license a cancer treatment of Celyad, which also falls in the category of immunotherapy. It concerns NKR-2-T, which Celyad CEO Christian Homsy previously labeled “Swiss Army Knife”, as it does not recognize one, but several kinds of tumors. The therapy is sparsely being tested on cancer patients.

It is noteworthy that Ono Pharmaceutical chose the allogeneic form of treatment, in which cells from a donor are used. On the autologous treatment, Ono Pharmaceutical only took an option.

In an inital phase, Ono Pharmaceutical pays 11.25 million euros to Celyad for the license. This can be topped up with milestone payments, depending on the success of the treatment. Celyad might earn up to 282 million euros.

Ono Pharmaceutical only closed a deal for Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. Celyad hopes to come to a similar agreement for other countries. “There is a lot of interest,” stated Homsy yesterday, “important results are coming up in the next months.”

Celyad made in 2015 a major turnaround by focusing on cancer, where it previously only focused on heart failure. According to Homsy, this is the way to go as he recently wrote in a letter to the stockholders: “Christopher Columbus departed on a journey to find a new route to India, but eventually discovered America.”