Hanmi partners with RAPT Therapeutics to develop and commercialize FLX475 for cancer treatment

By Lim Chang-won Posted : December 4, 2019, 09:49 Updated : December 4, 2019, 09:49

[Courtesy of Hanmi Pharmaceutical ]

SEOUL -- As part of a campaign to regain reputation as a major drugmaker in South Korea, Hanmi Pharmaceutical signed a license and collaboration agreement with RAPT Therapeutics, an American clinical stage immunology-based biopharmaceutical company, to develop and commercialize FLX475 for the treatment of multiple cancers in Asia.

FLX475 is a small molecule CCR4 antagonist designed to block the migration of regulatory T cells specifically into tumors. T cells may limit the effectiveness of currently available therapies. RAPT is developing FLX475 for the treatment of "charged" tumors and expects results from the Phase 2 portion of its clinical trial in the first half of 2020. Charged tumors have all the components to be hit by the body's immune response but survive by harnessing regulatory T cells.

RAPT will receive $10 million in an upfront payment and near-term milestone payment as well as up to $48 million in success-based development milestones, up to $60 million in potential sales milestones and double-digit royalties on any future sales of FLX475 in the specified territories, according to a joint statement. 

Hanmi will receive an exclusive license to develop and commercialize FLX475 in South Korea, China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, the statement said, adding the South Korean company would conduct a Phase 2 clinical trial in South Korea and China to evaluate FLX475 in patients with gastric cancer.

"We are actively building our immuno-oncology portfolio, and see FLX475 as a potential keystone in our effort to deliver new safe and effective cancer therapeutics to patients who need them," Hanmi CEO Kwon Se-chang was quoted as saying.

FLX475 targets charged tumors including virally-associated cancers, gastric cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, triple-negative breast cancer and head and neck cancers, said Bang Yung-jue, a medical oncology professor at Seoul National University Hospital. "I believe FLX475 has the potential to offer patients a new therapeutic option that is desperately needed, particularly in Korea, which has the highest rate of gastric cancer in the world."

"This collaboration with Hanmi can provide us an entry point into the Asian market, allowing us to potentially expand our geographic footprint in a region with high prevalence of patients with 'charged' tumors who we believe are most likely to respond to FLX475," said RAPT Therapeutics CEO Brian Wong.

The FLX47 deal followed Hanmi's project, announced in September, to introduce antibodies from Phanes Therapeutics, an American biotech company, for the development of multiple bispecific antibodies. Hanmi would apply Phanes' antibodies to Pentambody, a next-generation, bispecific antibody platform developed by Beijing Hanmi Pharmaceutical, that allows an antibody to simultaneously bind two different targets for both immuno-oncology therapy and targeted therapy.

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