Astellas partners with Pandion to develop bispecific drugs for type 1 diabetes

Astellas signed a licensing and collaboration agreement with Pandion Therapeutics to develop locally acting immunomodulators for type 1 diabetes and other autoimmune diseases of the pancreas, the companies announced Thursday. Under the deal, Astellas will make payments of up to $45 million, comprising upfront fees and payments related to research and preclinical activities, while Pandion is also eligible to receive more than $750 million in future milestones.

The companies noted that the partnership will combine Pandion's modular biologics and functional immunology expertise with Astellas' advanced therapeutics development and global commercialisation capabilities for the treatment of autoimmune diseases. Under the agreed terms, Pandion will be responsible for design and discovery of bispecific drug candidates, while Astellas will be responsible for conducting preclinical, clinical and commercialisation activities.

According to the deal terms, Pandion is also eligible to receive royalties on worldwide net sales of any commercial products developed through the collaboration. Rahul Kakkar, Pandion's chief executive, said "our tissue targeted immune effectors are designed to directly address this aberrant immune response and modify the disease at the site of immune attack."

Meanwhile, Naoki Okamura, chief strategy officer at Astellas, remarked that the drugmaker has positioned antigen-specific immune modulation (ASIM) "as one of our strategic areas of primary focus," adding "Pandion's tissue-specific immune modulation technology is anticipated to be the potential next-generation modality for ASIM, which can potentially expand its application to various other autoimmune diseases."

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