Life Sciences Insight

NovaRock takes stomach cancer program global through Flame BioSciences deal worth up to $640M

NovaRock Biotherapeutics is taking its antibody programs global through a new partnership. For $7.5 million upfront and a potential $633 million in milestones, the New Jersey-based biotech is licensing a treatment for pancreatic and stomach cancers to Pennsylvania’s Flame BioSciences. 

Under the deal, Flame picks up the exclusive worldwide rights, excluding greater China, to NBL-015, a monoclonal antibody that targets the protein Claudin 18.2. Flame will take over development, regulatory approval and commercialization of the drug and is on the hook for $172.5 million in development milestones and up to $460 million in sales milestones, NovaRock said in a statement Wednesday. 

The deal also includes an earlier-stage collaboration on bispecific antibodies. The duo will work together, at Flame’s expense, on the discovery and preclinical development of two new bispecifics using NovaRock’s technology. After that, Flame will pick up the exclusive rights to further develop, manufacture and commercialize those products. The partners expect the leading candidates to start clinical trials in late 2023. 

“The collaboration with Flame marks a solid step towards getting NovaRock’s innovative portfolio into the global market,” said NovaRock CEO Han Li. “The proceeds from this collaboration will be primarily used to fund the clinical advancement of NBL-012 and NBL-015 as well as the advancement of our preclinical programs.”

Besides NBL-015, NovaRock has several antibody treatments in its pipeline, including bispecifics and antibody-drug conjugates that work as targeted therapies or immuno-oncology treatments. NBL-012 is a monoclonal antibody targeting IL-23. 

As for Flame, the company is working on treatments for cancer and inflammatory conditions including lead program, FL-101, for lung cancers that are driven by inflammation.