NewLink Genetics could get more than $1B from partnership with Roche on potential cancer drug

IndustriesAssociated Press

A newly announced partnership with Genentech on an experimental cancer drug sent shares of NewLink Genetics soaring 15 percent Monday.

NewLink said it will get $150 million upfront from Genentech, a unit of Swiss drugmaker Roche, and could receive more than $1 billion in payments based on milestones, as well as royalties if the drug is approved. The drug, now called NLG919, is in early-stage clinical testing.

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The drug is designed to attack a pathway that blocks the body's immune system from working against many types of cancer, according to the Ames, Iowa, company. The drug companies will also work to develop drugs similar to NLG919. Genentech will fund research, development and marketing of the drugs. NewLink will have an option to co-market the drugs in the U.S.

Shares of NewLink Genetics Corp. rose $4.34 to $33.69 in afternoon trading.

NewLink Genetics also holds the license for an experimental Ebola vaccine and is preparing to start a clinical trial in the U.S., Germany, Switzerland and in an unnamed Africa country that is not battling Ebola.