CANbridge in potential $134M licensing deal with AVEO Oncology drug

Beijing-based CANbridge Life Sciences has built on its aim to expand licensing opportunities with a potential $134 million deal with Nasdaq-listed Aveo Oncology ($AVEO) for the clinical-stage ErbB3 (HER3) antibody candidate AV203.

CANbridge Chairman and CEO James Xue

The deal sees CANbridge put up $1 million; milestones could bring another $133 million to Aveo, according to a release.

For CANbridge, the addition of the Aveo Phase I candidate expands its model as a developer and distributor of pharmaceuticals and devices in China and nearby Asian destinations such as Taiwan and South Korea in something of a fast start in the space.

In October, CANbridge raised $10 million in venture capital financing led by Qiming Venture Partners and TF Capital, the venture arm of Chinese CRO Tigermed that built on angel investor funding of the same amount received in 2014.

CANbridge currently has licensing agreement with U.S.-based Azaya Therapeutics to develop and commercialize non-small cell lung cancer and other solid tumor candidate ATI-1123 in China and one with EUSA Pharma, a unit of Jazz Pharmaceuticals ($JAZZ), to commercialize Caphosol in China for the prevention and treatment of oral mucositis caused by cancer treatments.

CANbridge has also licensed Greater China rights to clinical-stage anti-TNF drug candidate APG101 from Germany's Apogenix for the treatment for glioblastoma multiforme, as well as an option for other indications.

But the Aveo deal is the first instance of CANbridge holding rights outside of Greater China and wider North Asia with the terms, including funding development in planned Phase IIa trials covering patients with squamous cell esophagus cancer.

"With an exclusive license to AV-203 outside of North America, CANbridge will be expanding outside of Asia for the first time," Chairman and CEO James Xue said in the release.

If the Phase IIa trial is successful, a wider deal on co-development would have to be negotiated.

- here's the release