Antibody development drives high-value biotech deals


The development of antibodies and associated technologies continues to drive high-value deals, according to a recent report in Nature.1

Using data provided by DealForma for the period 1 January 2022 to 16 June 2023, Nature analysed the deal trends in the field.

In 2022, there were 156 antibody-focused deals with a value of $57.3 billion, up 40% from 2021.

The most valuable of these deals was the partnership between Merck and Kelun-Biotech in December 2022 for the development of antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs). Under the agreement, Kelun-Biotech received an upfront payment of $175 million from Merck, with future development, regulatory and sales milestone payments potentially totalling up to $9.3 billion.

The second highest value deal was a partnership between Sanofi and IGM Biosciences for the discovery of immunoglobulin M (IgM) antibody agonists in March 2022. Sanofi agreed to pay IGM a $150 million upfront payment for the creation, development, manufacture, and commercialisation of IgM antibody agonists against three oncology targets and three immunology/inflammation targets. Under the agreement, IGM was also eligible to receive over $6 billion in aggregate development, regulatory and commercial milestones, as well as a 50:50 profit share in certain major market countries.

The third recent deal worth more than $5 billion involved Summit Therapeutics, who bought the rights to develop and commercialise Akeso’s ivonescimab (SMT112) in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Japan. In exchange for these rights, Summit made an upfront payment of $500 million and agreed subsequent regulatory and commercial milestones of up to $4.5 billion.



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