AbbVie Unveils Deal for Potential Tumor-Fighting Drug

AbbVie is investing in a potential cancer drug under development by Jacobio.
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AbbVie  (ABBV) - Get Report is teaming up with an early-stage biotech company to target a key node in cancer and immune cells through the development of SHP2 inhibitors.

Under its deal with Jacobio Pharmaceuticals, AbbVie gains an "exclusive license" to the Beijing-based firm's portfolio of SHP2 inhibitors, which have the potential to reduce cancer cell growth while also "modulating" the response of the immune system to battle tumors.

Financial terms of the agreement weren't disclosed. However, the North Chicago-based AbbVie will foot the bill for the research and development expenses incurred by Jacobio during the global clinical trials of a pair of SHP2 inhibitors, JAB-3068 and JAB-3312, the two companies said in a press statement.

When the trials are complete, AbbVie will take over the global development and commercialization of the two tumor-fighting inhibitors.

Jacobio, which has research centers in both Beijing and Boston, will retain an option to "exclusively develop and commercialize the SHP2 program in mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macao," the companies said.

In particular, cancer cell growth in tumors caused by genetic mutations depends upon SHP2, so inhibiting this "protein mediator of cellular signaling" could advance efforts to battle cancer, the companies said. And SHP2 also plays a big role in controlling cytokine production and immune cell response, so inhibiting it could also help to "generate anti-tumor activities."

"By targeting a key node in both cancer and immune cell signaling pathways, SHP2 inhibition ... may rapidly advance new treatment options for cancer patients," said Mohit Trikha, a vice president and head of early development oncology at AbbVie. 

Shares of AbbVie slipped 1.21% to $91.53 a share on Monday.