Mereo BioPharma Group plc (NASDAQ: MREO, AIM: MPH), “Mereo” or the “Company,” and Oncologie, Inc. (“Oncologie”) today announced a global license agreement (the “License Agreement”) for the development and commercialization of navicixizumab, an anti-DLL4/VEGF bispecific antibody currently being evaluated in an ongoing Phase 1b study in combination with paclitaxel in patients with advanced heavily pretreated ovarian cancer. Navicixizumab previously completed a Phase 1a monotherapy study in patients with various types of refractory solid tumors and is one of two product candidates Mereo acquired through its 2019 merger with OncoMed Pharmaceuticals, Inc. In October 2019, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) granted Fast Track designation to navicixizumab and has agreed in principle on the design of a study that could potentially support accelerated approval for navicixizumab in a heavily pretreated, platinum-resistant ovarian cancer patient population.
Under the terms of the License Agreement, Oncologie will receive an exclusive worldwide license to develop and commercialize navicixizumab. Mereo will receive an upfront payment of $4 million with an additional payment of $2 million conditional on a CMC (Chemistry, Manufacturing and Controls) milestone. Oncologie will be responsible for all future research, development and commercialization of navicixizumab. Additionally, Mereo will be eligible to receive up to $300 million in future clinical, regulatory and commercial milestones, tiered royalties ranging from the mid-single-digit to sub-teen percentages on global annual net sales of navicixizumab, as well as a negotiated percentage of sublicensing revenues from certain sublicensees.
“We believe Oncologie is expertly positioned to further advance navicixizumab through clinical development and towards potential commercialization,” said Dr. Denise Scots-Knight, Chief Executive Officer of Mereo. “While we believe navicixizumab is an exciting oncology asset, we continue to focus our primary efforts on the development of our innovative rare disease portfolio including our lead product candidate setrusumab for the treatment of osteogenesis imperfecta, which continues to advance towards a pivotal Phase 3 pediatric study.”
“We believe navicixizumab is a strong strategic fit with our portfolio of innovative oncology assets, and we are excited to enter into this agreement with Mereo,” said Laura E. Benjamin, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of Oncologie. “Navicixizumab has demonstrated robust activity when combined with paclitaxel in a Phase 1b study in platinum-resistant ovarian cancer patients including those who received prior bevacizumab. Navicixizumab has also demonstrated promising activity in a Phase 1b monotherapy study of heavily pretreated ovarian cancer patients, as well as in other tumor types. We seek to leverage the strong development and regulatory progress Mereo has already made to continue its development and ultimately make this investigational therapy available to patients as quickly as possible.”
As a consequence of the License Agreement with Oncologie, and in accordance with the terms and conditions of the Contingent Value Rights Agreement for former stockholders of OncoMed Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (“OncoMed”), dated April 23, 2019, by and among Mereo and Computershare Inc., as rights agent, (the “Mereo CVR Agreement”), holders of contingent value rights (“CVRs”) pursuant to the Mereo CVR Agreement will be entitled to receive certain eligible cash milestone payments made to Mereo under the License Agreement relating to navicixizumab. Details of the amount payable to holders of CVRs from the upfront payment will be announced within thirty days of the effective date of the License Agreement. Pursuant to the terms of the Mereo CVR Agreement, if a milestone occurs prior to the fifth anniversary of the closing of Mereo’s merger with OncoMed, then holders of CVRs will be entitled to receive an amount in cash equal to 70% of the aggregate principal amount received by Mereo after deduction of costs, charges and expenditures set out in detail in the Mereo CVR Agreement. Such milestone payments are also subject to a cash consideration cap, pursuant to which the aggregate principal amount of all cash payments made to holders of CVRs under the Mereo CVR Agreement shall in no case exceed $79.7 million.
Navicixizumab is an anti-DLL4/VEGF bispecific antibody designed to inhibit both Delta-like ligand 4 (“DLL4”) in the Notch cancer stem cell pathway as well as vascular endothelial growth factor (“VEGF”) and thereby induce potent anti-tumor responses while mitigating certain angiogenic-related toxicities. In preclinical studies, navicixizumab demonstrated robust in vivo anti-tumor activity across a range of solid tumor xenografts, including colon, ovarian, lung and pancreatic cancers, among others. In a Phase 1a study with single-agent navicixizumab, 19 of 66 patients with various types of refractory solid tumors had tumor shrinkage following treatment with navicixizumab. Notably, 3 of the 12 (25%) ovarian cancer patients treated in the trial achieved an unconfirmed partial response with single-agent navicixizumab therapy.
A Phase 1b dose escalation and expansion study of navicixizumab plus paclitaxel has completed enrollment of 44 platinum resistant ovarian cancer patients who had failed >2 prior therapies and/or received prior bevacizumab. As of the last interim data analysis at the end of Q1 2019, the unconfirmed response rate was 41%. The unconfirmed ORR for bevacizumab-naïve patients was 64% and 30% for bevacizumab pre-treated patients. The median PFS for all patients was 7.3 months. The most common related adverse events of any grade were hypertension (68%), fatigue (46%), headache (25%), neutropenia (21%), diarrhea (18%), pulmonary hypertension (14%), dyspnea (14%) and peripheral edema (14%). Other related adverse events of special interest were one Grade 1 related heart failure, one Grade 3 and one Grade 4 related thrombocytopenia, and one Grade 4 related gastrointestinal perforation.
The FDA has granted Fast Track designation to navicixizumab for the treatment of high grade ovarian, primary peritoneal or fallopian tube cancer in patients who have received at least 3 prior therapies and/or prior bevacizumab. Following a Type B End of Phase 1 meeting with the FDA held in July 2019, the FDA agreed in principle on an outline for a Phase 2 clinical trial that could potentially support accelerated approval of navicixizumab in this ovarian cancer patient population.