AZ inks new deal with Starpharma

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Australian company Starpharma (ASX:SPL) has announced a new development and option agreement with AstraZeneca to progress the development of a Dendrimer Enhanced Product (DEP) version of one of the UK company's oncology medicines.

The DEP is a drug delivery platform designed to enhance the properties of other therapies. 

The new agreement builds on a previous DEP agreement between the companies that related to a multiproduct licence covering novel oncology drug candidates such as the Bcl2/xL inhibitor, AZD0466.

The new agreement was signed during the current 2019 ASCO (American Society of Clinical Oncology) meeting in Chicago.

Under the new agreement, Starpharma will conduct preclinical testing of the DEP version of the AstraZeneca oncology product.

"At any time from the signing of this agreement and for a defined period after the completion of this testing, AstraZeneca may exercise its option and licence the DEP drug candidate for clinical and commercial development," said Starpharma in a statement.

Starpharma will receive an exercise fee of US$5 million if AstraZeneca exercises the option. It said it will also receive "industry standard" development and commercialisation milestones and escalating royalties on sales.

In the event AstraZeneca does not exercise the option, the Australian company has the option to license the rights to develop and commercialise this undisclosed DEP drug either itself or through a sub-licensee with milestones and royalties paid to AstraZeneca upon commercialisation.

According to Starpharma CEO, Dr Jackie Fairley, “We are delighted to sign a new commercial DEP agreement at ASCO with our long-standing partner, AstraZeneca. This agreement follows a successful research program under which we identified a promising DEP candidate with a number of potential benefits.

"This agreement represents the culmination of that work and this DEP product has the potential to provide significantly enhanced patient benefit. Unlike our first DEP agreement with AstraZeneca, which applies DEP to novel oncology drug candidates, this agreement is for an existing major AstraZeneca oncology medicine and provides further validation of the value of the DEP platform and its broad application to both new chemical entities and existing products.”

"Building on our long-standing and successful working relationship with Starpharma, this agreement will enable us to further evaluate the potential of the DEP technology with the aim of improving treatment outcomes for patients,” said Susan Galbraith, Senior Vice President, R&D Early Oncology, AstraZeneca.