Japanese drug giant Takeda has taken an exclusive license to Cambridge, UK-based Crescendo Biologics’ Humabodies directed to one of its oncology targets.

The move falls under an existing multi-target collaboration and license agreement signed by the firms in October 2016, which gave Takeda the right to develop and commercialise Humabody-based therapeutics resulting from the collaboration.

Under the deal, Crescendo is eligible to receive clinical development, regulatory and sales-based milestone payments of up to $754 million plus royalties on Humabody-based product sales by Takeda.

According to Crescendo, Takeda’s decision to exercise its licence option “comes substantially earlier than planned and marks the highly successful delivery and further preclinical evaluation by Takeda of Humabody leads meeting its stringent criteria”.

The firm describes Humabody products as “a novel class of small, robust and potent protein therapeutics based on fully human VH domain building blocks.”

Compared to full antibodies, Humabodies have differentiated pharmacological properties: they are small and can rapidly penetrate and accumulate in tissue/tumours whilst clearing quickly from circulation to minimise systemic toxicity, it said.

“The team at Crescendo has made great progress on our Humabody programmes, working closely with the Takeda team. To date, we have met all the technical milestones on time or earlier than planned, which is proof of our excellent collaboration,” commented Dr Peter Pack, Crescendo’s chief executive.

“Our decision to exercise the licence was based on the quality of the Humabody leads and the potential we see to develop improved and differentiated immuno-oncology therapies,” added Chris Arendt, head, Oncology Drug Discovery Unit & Immunology Unit, Takeda.