Exelixis in-licenses 2nd anti-cancer compound from Aurigene
Alameda: Exelixis, Inc. and Aurigene Discovery Technologies Limited have announced that Exelixis has exercised its exclusive option under the companies' July 2019 agreement to in-license XL114 (formerly AUR104), a novel anti-cancer compound that inhibits the CARD11-BCL10-MALT1 (CBM) signaling pathway, which promotes lymphocyte survival and proliferation.
Following the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (USFDA) recent acceptance of its Investigational New Drug (IND) application, Exelixis will soon initiate a phase 1 clinical trial evaluating XL114 monotherapy in patients with Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL). At the American Association of Cancer Research Annual Meeting in April of this year, Aurigene presented preclinical data (Abstract 1266) demonstrating that XL114 exhibited potent anti-proliferative activity in a large panel of cancer cell lines ranging from hematological cancers to solid tumors with excellent selectivity over normal cells. In addition, oral dosing of XL114 resulted in significant dose-dependent tumor growth inhibition in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) and colon carcinoma models.
XL114 is the second molecule that Exelixis in-licensed from Aurigene under the companies' July 2019 collaboration, option and license agreement. Exelixis previously exercised its option to in-license XL102, a potent, selective and orally bioavailable inhibitor of cyclin-dependent kinase 7 (CDK7), from Aurigene in December 2020 and initiated a phase 1 trial of XL102 as a single agent and in combination with other anti-cancer agents in patients with advanced or metastatic solid tumors in January 2021.
"We are pleased that our agreement with Aurigene has generated a second promising compound that warrants advancement into clinical development and believe the collaboration will continue to play an important role in expanding our pipeline," said Peter Lamb, Ph.D., Executive Vice President, Scientific Strategy and Chief Scientific Officer, Exelixis. "XL114 has shown potent anti-proliferative activity in lymphoma cell lines that have aberrant activation of the CBM signaling pathway and may have a differentiated profile and potential as a best-in-class molecule that could improve outcomes for patients with Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and other hematologic cancers."
XL114 was identified to have anti-proliferative activity in cell lines with constitutive activation of CBM signaling, including activated B-cell-like DLBCL (ABC-DLBCL), mantle cell lymphoma and follicular lymphoma cell lines. Further characterization of XL114 in cell-based assays demonstrated a functional role in B-cell (BCR) signaling pathways. Additionally, XL114 showed dose-dependent tumor growth inhibition in an ABC-DLBCL mouse xenograft tumor model. In preclinical development, XL114 also demonstrated a high degree of selectivity against a broad safety pharmacology panel of enzymes and receptors. While the precise molecular mechanism underlying XL114's function in repressing BCR signaling and MALT1 activation has yet to be characterized, the fatty acid-binding protein 5 (FABP5) has been identified as a prominent XL114-binding target.
"XL114 is the second molecule that Exelixis has opted to in-license under our July 2019 agreement, underscoring the significant potential of our approach to the discovery and preclinical development of innovative cancer therapies that target novel mechanisms of action," said Murali Ramachandra, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer, Aurigene. "Exelixis has a track record of success in the clinical development and commercialization of anti-cancer therapies that provide patients with important new treatment options, and we are pleased that the continued advancement of XL114 will be supported by the company's extensive clinical, regulatory and commercialization infrastructure."
Under the terms of the July 2019 agreement, Exelixis made an upfront payment of $10 million for exclusive options to obtain an exclusive license from Aurigene to three preexisting programs, including the compounds now known as XL102 and XL114. In addition, Exelixis and Aurigene initiated three Aurigene-led drug discovery programs on mutually agreed upon targets, in exchange for an additional upfront payment of $2.5 million per program. The collaboration was expanded in 2021 to include three additional early discovery programs. Exelixis is also contributing research funding to Aurigene to facilitate discovery and preclinical development work on all nine programs. Exelixis may exercise its option for a program at any time up until the first IND for the program becomes effective. Having exercised options on two programs thus far (XL102 and XL114), if and when Exelixis exercises a future option, it will make an option exercise payment to Aurigene and assume responsibility for that program's future clinical development and commercialization including global manufacturing. To exercise its option for XL114, Exelixis will make an option exercise payment to Aurigene of $10 million. Once Exelixis exercises its option for a program, Aurigene will be eligible for clinical development, regulatory and sales milestones, as well as royalties on future potential sales of the compound. Under the terms of the agreement, Aurigene retains limited development and commercial rights for India and Russia.