A duo of deals sees Avenue secure rare disease med while Allist lands cancer drug

Two biotechs are shoring up their pipelines and commercial aspirations, tacking on a clinical-stage rare disease drug and a preclinical cancer med, respectively.

Fortress Biotech-founded Avenue Therapeutics is adding on a phase 1/2-stage asset from AnnJi Pharmaceutical for the treatment of spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA). Financial details are sparse, but Avenue is paying AnnJi $3 million upfront for AJ201 in addition to an undisclosed amount of biobucks and royalties, according to an announcement Thursday.

Avenue is also offering more than a million shares, some of which are tethered to milestones, totaling no more than 19.99% of the company’s outstanding stock. In return, the Miami-based biotech gets access to commercialization rights in the U.S., Canada, EU, U.K. and Israel.

SMBA, also known as Kennedy’s disease, is an inherited motor neuron disorder marked by disruptions in the nerve signals between the brain and spinal cord. It only affects men, and symptoms usually begin between ages 20 and 40. In a statement, Avenue CEO Alexandra MacLean, M.D., called AJ201 “the lead molecule in the clinic to treat Kennedy’s disease.” The asset immediately slots in as the runner-up candidate in Avenue’s pipeline behind a postoperative pain therapy.

Elsewhere Thursday, Shanghai Allist Pharmaceuticals inked its own deal for Abbisko Therapeutics’ preclinical, next-generation EGFR antagonist, ABK3376. In exchange for the rights to commercialize the asset in mainland China, Abbisko is receiving an undisclosed upfront payment with up to $187.9 million in biobucks available. Allist will also have a time-limited opportunity to expand the licensing deal worldwide.

The license allows Allist to bolster its already-established EGFR pipeline led by furmonertinib, which has been approved in China as a first- and second-line treatment for patients with non-small cell lung cancer depending on the mutations. Abbisko touts ABK3376 as being able to block L858R and exon 19 deletion mutations, traits that compete against AstraZeneca’s FDA-approved Tagrisso.