Kazia licenses global rights to potential first-in-class oncology drug

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Kazia Therapeutics (ASX:KZA), an oncology-focused drug development company, has entered into a worldwide exclusive licensing agreement and a master services agreement with European company Evotec SE for EVT801, a small molecule, first-in-class oncology drug candidate.

Kazia said it expects to launch a phase one clinical trial of EVT801 in the calendar year 2021.

Under the terms of the agreement, Kazia will pay an immediate upfront of €1 million ($1.6 million), contingent milestones of up to €308 million ($480 million) related to the achievement of clinical, regulatory and commercial milestones over the lifetime of the drug, and a tiered single-digit royalty on net sales.

EVT801 is a small-molecule inhibitor of VEGFR3. Its primary activity is to inhibit lymphangiogenesis, the formation of new lymphatic vessels around a growing tumour.

"By doing so, EVT801 is expected to starve the tumour of vital nutrients and to reduce metastasis. EVT801 also has marked activity on the immune system within the tumour and may therefore enhance the activity of immuno-oncology therapies," said Kazia in a statement.

VT801 was originally discovered by Sanofi and was developed through a partnership with Evotec.

Kazia CEO Dr James Garner said, “We are delighted to add this tremendously exciting new compound to the Kazia pipeline. Evotec have done first-class work in the early development of EVT801, and the preclinical data package is exceptionally strong. We intend to fast track a phase I clinical trial of the drug, which we expect to commence in CY2021."

He added, “As we have built Kazia over the past five years, our strategy has been to assemble a portfolio of world-class development candidates through in-licensing. The EVT801 transaction is wholly consistent with that strategy. We have demonstrated, through the paxalisib program, our ability to add value to a development candidate, and we intend to similarly accelerate EVT801 via a rich and innovative development program.”

Evotec CEO, Dr Werner Lanthaler, added, “We are very pleased to partner with Kazia for this promising asset, for which we have high hopes. Our corporate strategy does not provide for Evotec to take EVT801 through clinical trials itself, so we have sought to identify a partner who can do justice to the drug’s potential. We recognise Kazia’s track record and look forward to working together to make EVT801 available to patients and clinicians.”