Trubion Gets $20M Upfront in Leukemia Drug Partnership With Facet; Shares Boom

8/28/09Follow @xconomy

Trubion Pharmaceuticals has been pretty quiet this year, but put out some some good news this morning that sent shares soaring more than 40 percent. The Seattle biotech company said it has signed a global partnership with Redwood City, CA-based Facet Biotech to co-develop and market an experimental treatment for leukemia.

Trubion (NASDAQ: TRBN) will get a $20 million upfront payment, and Facet (NASDAQ: FACT) has agreed to buy another $10 million worth of Trubion stock as part of thdeale , according to a statement. The two companies will equally split all the costs—and future profits—of a treatment currently in early-stage clinical trials, called TRU-016. If the Trubion drug hits all future milestones set out in the agreement, the company stands to receive as much as $176.5 million worth of additional payments.

Trubion has no marketed products of its own, and it underwhelmed investors a couple years ago with a 276-patient clinical trial of its lead drug candidate, TRU-015, for rheumatoid arthritis. That program has continued under a partnership with pharmaceutical giant Wyeth, although its future was given a dose of uncertainty earlier this year when Pfizer agreed to acquire Wyeth for $68 billion. Trubion has gathered less evidence for TRU-016, although it released encouraging preliminary results from a trial of 26 patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia at a medical meeting in June.

The Facet deal also provides a significant lift to the balance sheet for Trubion, which cut one-fourth of its staff back in February, and said at that time it had enough cash to operate into the second half of 2010.

“In considering alliance opportunities for TRU-016 we sought to retain meaningful economics in this exciting first-in-class product candidate, while enabling aggressive joint development with a partner who shared our vision and brought complementary experience and resources to the alliance,” said Trubion CEO Peter Thompson in a statement.

Trubion’s drugs are designed to have the ability to target specific types of protein markers on cells, like an engineered antibody, but in a smaller package, which is supposed to make the Trubion drugs more nimble at penetrating deep into tissues like bone marrow and lymph nodes. The TRU-016 candidate is designed to hit a target called CD-37 found on malignant cells. The partnership with Facet also includes any new drug candidates the companies may want to steer toward that target.

Shares of Trubion shot up 42 percent to $5.45 about six minutes after the opening bell this morning.

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  • Dianne

    Congratulations to my friends at Trubion. They are all hard working and great at their jobs. Some times we forget who is doing the actual work behind the scenes. I know a great many of you having worked with you in the past. Keep up the hard work. You are what makes Trubion work. Great Science, great people, great products!