Looking at the past decade of oncology dealmaking (Fig. 1), the field hit new highs in 2020, as nearly 400 deals were signed worth almost $80 billion, the most of any therapeutic area in recent years.

Chart of deal values and volumes from 2008 to 2022

Fig. 1 | R&D partnerships in oncology. Source: DealForma database. Financials based on disclosed figures as of 2 Aug 2022.

The area has continued to be at the forefront of major deals since the start of 2021, with most of the top ten oncology deals in this period (Table 1) potentially being worth more than a billion dollars. These deals highlight some of the novel modalities that are being pursued in the field, including targeted protein degradation with small-molecule PROTACs, which are the focus of Pfizer’s deal with Arvinas, and natural killer cell engagers, which are the focus of Gilead’s deal with Dragonfly Therapeutics. Immune checkpoint inhibitors also continue to drive dealmaking, with two major deals around the novel target TIGIT involving GSK and iTeos Therapeutics, and Novartis and BeiGene, respectively.

Table 1 | Top 10 oncology partnerships by upfront cash and equity announced since 1 January 2021

Licensor and licensee

Total deal value ($ million), date

Description

Arvinas and Pfizer

$2,400,

22 Jul 2021

Pfizer partners with Arvinas to co-develop ARV-471, an investigational oral PROTAC estrogen receptor protein degrader for ER+/HER2- locally advanced or metastatic breast cancer. Arvinas will receive $650 million upfront.

Sanofi and Regeneron

$1,100,

2 Jun 2022

Regeneron will make an upfront payment of $900 million to Sanofi to gain global license rights to Libtayo (cemiplimab), which was originally co-commercialized by Regeneron and Sanofi through an agreement signed in 2015. The anti-PD1 monoclonal antibody is approved for advanced BCC, CSCC and NSCLC.

BeiGene and Novartis

$2,200,

11 Jan 2021

Novartis signs deal with BeiGene to license its tislelizumab, an anti-PD1 mAb for classical Hodgkin’s lymphoma and metastatic urothelial carcinoma. BeiGene will receive $650 million upfront plus royalties and milestone payments.

iTeos Therapeutics and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)

$2,075,

14 Jun 2021

iTeos Therapeutics and GSK sign deal to develop EOS-448, an anti-TIGIT mAb in phase 1 development for the treatment of cancer. iTeos will receive a $625 million upfront payment in addition to potential milestone payments.

Eisai and Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS)

$3,150,

17 Jun 2021

Eisai and BMS partner to develop Eisai’s ADC MORAb-202 for the treatment of FRα-positive solid tumors. BMS will pay Eisai $650 million upfront, and Eisai will also be eligible for up to $2.45 billion in milestone payments.

Foghorn Therapeutics and Loxo Oncology (part of Lilly)

$1,680,

10 Dec 2021

Loxo Oncology signs deal with Foghorn Therapeutics to develop oncology therapeutics using Foghorn’s proprietary Gene Traffic Control platform. The deal also includes a co-development agreement for Foghorn’s selective BRM oncology program and a further undisclosed target.

BeiGene and Novartis

$2,895,

20 Dec 2021

Novartis signs an option, collaboration and licence agreement with BeiGene for the development of the anti-TIGIT mAb ociperlimab (BGB-A1217), which is in phase 3 development for the treatment of NSCLC and in clinical studies in a range of other solid tumors.

Dragonfly Therapeutics and Gilead

$300,

2 May 2022

Gilead signs deal with Dragonfly to develop NK cell engagers for oncology and inflammation. Gilead also gains an exclusive license to candidate DF7001, a 5T4-targeting NK cell engager for solid tumors.

Cullinan Oncology and Taiho Pharmaceutical

$405,

12 May 2022

Taiho Pharmaceutical will pay Cullinan Oncology $275 million upfront and up to $130 million in milestone payments in a research partnership to co-develop the EGFR inhibitor CLN-081/TAS6417.

IGM Biosciences

and Sanofi

$6,265

29 Mar 2022

Sanofi and IGM Biosciences partner for the development of IgM antibody agonists against three oncology and three immunology/inflammation targets. IGM will receive $150 million upfront, and up to $6 billion in milestone payments.