Roche bets up to $1B on MediLink cancer ADC

Jan. 3, 2024

Roche has entered into a worldwide collaboration and license agreement with China-based MediLink Therapeutics for the development of a next-generation ADC candidate targeting c-Mesenchymal epithelial transition factor (c-Met) against solid tumors.

The IND-stage asset, YL211, utilizes MediLink's latest generation proprietary TMALIN ADC platform technology, along with a highly specific c-Met antibody. According to MediLink, it has demonstrated promising efficacy and safety in various preclinical tumor models and safety evaluation experiments.

Per the deal, Roche will hand MediLink upfront and near-term milestone payments totaling $50 million and, together with additional milestone payments potentially reaching a total deal value nearing $1 billion. In exchange, MediLink will grant Roche exclusive global rights for the development, manufacturing and commercialization of YL211. MediLink will work with Roche's R&D unit, China Innovation Center of Roche, to initiate the phase I clinical trial. 

Back in October, MediLink inked a deal with BioNTech that centered on the development of an ADC targeting the human epidermal growth factor receptor 3 (HER3). That deal, which started with an upfront payment of $70 million from BioNTech, also has the potential to hit $1 billion.

2023 was a big year for ADC deals, as the modality experienced what many described as a "renaissance" in oncology. GSK and China-based Hansoh Pharma closed out the year by signing their second deal together, this time a potential $1.525 billion license agreement for a B7-H3 targeted ADC.
Just prior to that, BMS inked a license and collaboration agreement with SystImmune for a potentially first-in-class bispecific ADC targeting both EGFR and HER3. The deal, BMS' largest of the year, could hit $8.4 billion.