LifeArc co-founded company RQ Bio signs licensing agreement with AstraZeneca worth up to $157m plus royalties for monoclonal antibodies against SARS-CoV-2
- AstraZeneca granted exclusive worldwide licence to develop, manufacture and commercialise RQ Bio’s existing early-stage monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) against SARS-CoV-2 and right to exclusively licence additional mAbs against SARS-CoV-2
- RQ Bio launched to develop treatments and preventative therapies based on potent broad spectrum mAbs to provide instant and long-lasting immunity for vulnerable people at risk of severe disease or death from existing, emerging and new viral infections
- Hugo Fry, CCO at Imbria and former Sanofi Executive, appointed CEO
- Supported through continued deep collaborations with the University of Oxford and LifeArc
- LifeArc is co-founder and sole funder of RQ Bio and has provided resources and expertise from across the charity, working collaboratively with the other founders.
LifeArc today announced that RQ Biotechnology Ltd (RQ Bio), a company it co-founded, has signed a licensing agreement with AstraZeneca PLC (AZN). Under the terms of the agreement, RQ Bio has granted AstraZeneca an exclusive worldwide licence to develop, manufacture and commercialise RQ Bio’s existing early-stage mAbs against SARS-CoV-2 and a right of first refusal to take an exclusive licence in respect of any additional mAbs against SARS-CoV-2.
RQ Bio will receive upfront and milestone payments of up to $157 million and will be eligible to receive single digit royalties on sales. The successful licensing deal was supported by Oxford University Innovation, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the University of Oxford that manages the University’s technology transfer and consulting activities, who worked efficiently and creatively with all parties on the corresponding technology licences and the filing of intellectual properties.
RQ Bio today emerges from stealth mode announcing its launch as a new UK-based biotechnology company. The company, which is headquartered in London, is dedicated to developing treatments and preventative therapies based on potent broad spectrum mAbs to provide instant and long-lasting immunity for vulnerable people at risk of severe disease or death from existing, emerging and new viral infections.
“LifeArc is committed to backing leading UK academics and scientists, and we were inspired to fund RQ Bio because of the exceptional group of founders who are so passionately dedicated to finding new treatments and preventative therapies for viral infections in areas of high unmet patient need,” said Clare Terlouw, Head of LifeArc Ventures. “LifeArc provided a wide range of support to help RQ Bio execute on its business plan, including financial backing from our venture team, scientific expertise and access to its world-class laboratory facilities. We look forward to further supporting RQ Bio as it becomes a world-leading infectious disease company.”
The RQ Bio executive team is composed of biotech and pharmaceutical industry leaders with proven expertise in end-to-end antibody generation. Key appointments include:
- Hugo Fry, CCO at Imbria and former Sanofi Executive, appointed Chief Executive Officer
- Mike Westby, co-founder of RQ Bio, CSO of Centauri Therapeutics and former Pfizer R&D Executive, remains a key Scientific Advisor
- Paul Kellam, co-founder of RQ Bio, Professor of Virus Genomics at Imperial College London and Vice President of Infectious Diseases & Vaccines at Kymab UK, remains a key Scientific Advisor
- Jane Osbourn OBE, co-founder of RQ Bio, CSO of Alchemab and previous Chair of the UK Bioindustry Association (BIA), remains a key Scientific Adviser.
To maximise and accelerate patient impact, the company will continue to be supported by its collaborations with its scientific co-founders, the University of Oxford and leading UK medical research charity LifeArc. Professor Gavin Screaton, Head of the Medical Sciences Division at the University of Oxford, will continue to advise in his capacity as scientific and medical co-founder, as will Clare Terlouw, Head of LifeArc Ventures and UK BIA board member, as a member of the Board of Directors.
“Our vision is to build on our successful debut with neutralising antibody therapy for SARS-CoV-2 and develop innovative medicines to address current and evolving unmet needs in other viral infectious diseases,” said Hugo Fry, CEO of RQ Bio. “By combining our expertise and innovative excellence in core areas we have created a smarter approach to antibody generation making us uniquely positioned to deliver fast patient impact.”
Notes to Editors
LifeArc is a self-funded medical research charity. Our mission is to advance translation of early science into health care treatments or diagnostics that can be fully developed and made available to patients. We have been doing this for more than 25 years and our work has resulted in a diagnostic for antibiotic resistance and four licensed medicines.
Our model is built on collaboration, and we partner with a broad range of groups including medical research charities, research organisations, industry and academic scientists. Our Early Ventures investment team invests in seed and Series A stage companies and is able to scale our investments further into later funding rounds. The ventures strategy focuses on investing in novel translational science and technology with a dual goal of generating financial returns to the charity and positive impact for patients.
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