AstraZeneca is shelling out $1 billion upfront in a deal with Daiichi Sankyo for access to the latter's experimental TROP2-directed antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) DS-1062 for multiple tumour types.

The value of the deal could hit $6 billion, with a $1 billion triggered by regulatory approvals and $4 billion linked to future sales.

DS-1062, which is currently in Phase I clinical development for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and triple negative breast cancer (TNBC), is comprised of a humanised anti-TROP2 monoclonal antibody attached to a topoisomerase I inhibitor payload by a tetrapeptide-based linker with a customised drug-to-antibody ratio (DAR) of four to optimise the benefit-risk ratio for the intended patient population.

Preclinical studies have shown that DS-1062 selectively binds to the TROP2 receptor on the surface of a tumour cell, and it is proposed that the drug is then internalised into the cancer cell where lysosomal enzymes break down the tetrapeptide-based linker and release the DXd payload.

Commenting on the strategy behind the move, José Baselga, the UK-based drugmaker's chief of oncology R&D, told the Financial Times: “If we can develop agents that have the capacity to elicit responses in patients with cancer . . . it’s a perfect match for our immuno-oncology programmes.”

DS-1062 “has the potential to become a best-in-class TROP2 ADC in multiple tumours, including lung and breast cancers,” said Sunao Manabe, representative director, president and chief executive of Daiichi Sankyo."

This new strategic collaboration with AstraZeneca, a company with extensive experience and significant expertise in the global oncology business, will enable us to deliver DS-1062 to more patients around the world as quickly as possible.”

The companies will jointly develop and commercialise DS-1062 worldwide, except in Japan where Daiichi Sankyo will maintain exclusive rights. Daiichi Sankyo will manufacture and supply DS-1062.