Novocure (NSDQ:NVCR) said today it inked a $15 million licensing agreement with Shanghai-based biopharma company Zai Lab to offer its Optune technology on the Chinese market and accelerate clinical trial enrollment in the region.
The Optune device delivers low-intensity, intermediate frequency, alternating electric fields, called “Tumor Treating Fields,” to inhibit cancer cell replication.
Through the agreement, Novocure granted Zai Labs an exclusive licensing agreement to commercialize TTF in China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. Zai Lab will be responsible for regulatory submissions in Greater China and will promote the TTF technology in the region, Novocure said.
“The Zai Lab team is passionate about bringing innovative treatments to patients in need, a passion we share at Novocure. We believe this collaboration supports our mission of making Tumor Treating Fields available to patients throughout the world and will accelerate the development of Tumor Treating Fields in indications beyond glioblastoma,” exec hair Bill Doyle said in a prepared statement.
Novocure said that while its Optune TTF device is not yet approved for commercialization in China, the technology was recommended with Level 1 evidence as a treatment for glioblastoma in China’s Glioma Treatment Guideline published in 2016.
“There are approximately 45,000 newly diagnosed GBM patients annually in China. Temozolomide is currently the only approved therapy for GBM in China so there are limited choices for one of the most deadly cancers. I am eagerly anticipating Tumor Treating Fields approval in China,” China National Cancer Center associate director Lvhua Wang said in a press release.
As part of the deal, Novocure will receive $15 million up front and is eligible for milestone payments and royalties on products sold in the Greater China region.
“Optune has demonstrated strong efficacy in a very challenging and difficult to treat cancer, GBM. Optune was approved in Japan without the need for a local bridging trial and we hope for similar rapid development in China. In addition, Tumor Treating Fields has the potential to treat a variety of solid tumors, which we believe are complementary to Zai Lab’s existing late-stage oncology assets and represent strong commercial synergy for us,” Zai Lab CEO Dr. Samantha Du said in prepared remarks.
Earlier this month, NovoCure released results from the Stellar phase 2 registration trial exploring the use of its Tumor Treating Fields and standard of care chemotherapy to chemotherapy alone in treating mesothelioma, touting a significant extension in median overall survival.