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AstraZeneca invests $6b in new Daiichi cancer drug

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AstraZeneca will advance $6 billion into Japan’s Daiichi Sankyo under the drugmakers’ second multi-billion dollar oncology collaboration to develop and market a new type of targeted cancer treatment.

The British drugmaker has been reinforcing its portfolio of cancer therapies, particularly ADCs, a major area of focus for the company as it also ploughs on with its coronavirus vaccine candidate.

AstraZeneca disclosed it would make staggered upfront payments totalling $1 billion to Daiichi for an experimental drug called DS-1062, which belongs to a promising class of therapies called antibody drug conjugates (ADC).

Further payments would depend on certain regulatory and sales achievements. The deal will not affect 2020 earnings forecast, AstraZeneca said.

“We see significant potential in this antibody drug conjugate in lung as well as in breast and other cancers that commonly express TROP2,” AstraZeneca Chief Executive Pascal Soriot said, referring to a protein found on some cancer cell surfaces.

Astra believes the drug could bring $1 billion or more in annual sales, taking to six the number of its cancer drug hopefuls with so-called blockbuster revenue potential.

JP Morgan analysts held AstraZeneca’s upfront commitments were spread over three years it could still keep previous dividend commitments.

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