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JunHe Advises Elpiscience on its Research Collaboration and License Agreement with Astellas


On December 28, 2023, Elpiscience Biopharma, Ltd. (“Elpiscience”) and Astellas Pharma Inc. (TSE: 4503, “Astellas”) announced a research collaboration and license agreement for the novel bispecific macrophage engager (BiME®) platform, candidate drugs ES019 and another molecule program. The two companies will collaboratively conduct research for these two programs. Elpiscience will also grant Astellas the right to add up to two additional programs to be included in the collaboration. If Astellas exercises its option, Elpiscience will grant Astellas the exclusive right to further research, develop, manufacture and commercialize the products for each program.

Under the terms of the agreement, Elpiscience will receive up to US$37 million, including the upfront payment and license option fees. In addition, Elpiscience will receive research funding from Astellas to advance the programs. After Astellas exercises its option, Elpiscience is eligible to potentially receive more than US$1.7 billion in payments for the achievement of future development, regulatory, and commercial milestones. Elpiscience is also eligible to receive single-digit to lower double-digit percent royalty payments on net sales for the licensed products in each program.

Elpiscience is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company dedicated to developing life-changing immuno-oncology therapies for cancer patients worldwide. The company’s innovative approach is focused on targeting tumor microenvironments to identify effective mechanisms to kill cancer. A pipeline of novel cancer immunotherapies has been developed using its proprietary platforms, including the novel BiME® platform, that is capable of connecting and activating macrophages to kill tumor cells without triggering an inflammatory cytokine storm.

Astellas is a pharmaceutical company with operations in more than 70 countries and regions. Currently, the company is adopting a ‘Focus Area Approach’, aiming to identify opportunities for the continued development of innovative medicines to address unmet medical needs by focusing on physiological mechanisms and therapeutic approaches. Looking beyond prescription drugs, the company combines its expertise and knowledge with the cutting-edge technologies of external partners from different fields to create Rx+® healthcare solutions.

JunHe was engaged by Elpiscience to review and revise the transaction documents and assist the parties with their negotiations and communication. With its consistent delivery of efficient and rigorous legal services and detail-oriented and professional expertise, JunHe’s team was highly recognized by the client. 

The JunHe team was led by Dr. WANG, Zhaohui (Zoe) and partner ZHAO, Hao (Gerry), with great support from partners WEI, Yingling and WU, Yu (Sophia) for the anti-monopoly and patent matters, respectively.

JunHe is the only Chinese law firm to be admitted as a member of Lex Mundi and Multilaw, two international networks of independent law firms. JunHe and selected top law firms in major European and Asian jurisdictions are “best friends.” Through these connections, we provide high quality legal services to clients doing business throughout the world.
As the first carbon neutrality fund sponsored by a law firm in China, the BAF Carbon Neutrality Special Fund was jointly established by JunHe and the Beijing Afforestation Foundation (BAF) to promote carbon neutral initiatives, and encourage social collaboration based on the public fundraising platform to mobilize engagement in public welfare campaigns.