What’s Hot and What’s Not in Oncology Licensing in 2020?

Cancer is the biggest therapeutic area for licensing deals. But there are almost 3,000 drugs in Phase 1 through Phase 3, so competition for licensing deals and for market position is huge. Checkpoint inhibitors have benefits in most tumors and have made combination trials an industry standard. But everything in immuno-oncology has become so crowded that differentiation is key. So what are the areas everyone is seeking?

About 6% of Phase 1 trials in oncology are targets with no drugs in higher phases. What are these new targets? What is promising for tough tumors like pancreatic and microsatellite stable colorectal? What is promising in addressing resistance? Are there new theories of cancer? Are bispecifics becoming plug and play? Will they displace CART? What is coming around the corner? Is there still room for a new therapeutic in anti-angiogenesis, supportive care? Is pricing pressure going to change what is an acceptable oncology asset for a deal? What does it take to get a cancer licensing deal done?

In this whitepaper, Linda Pullan, PhD of  Pullan Consulting and our panel of experts provide insights in oncology and immuno-oncology to answer these questions, as well as questions from the audience.


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Company team

Linda Pullan, PhD

Founder, Pullan Consulting

Linda and her team at Pullan Consulting offer biotech and pharmaceutical companies consulting in all aspects of partnering. Linda has a PhD in Biochemistry, a BS in Chemistry, and over twenty years of drug industry experience, including work on more than 75 deals. Learn More

Company team

Jeffrey M. Bockman, PhD

EVP, Oncology Practice Head, Cello Health BioConsultin

Jeff leads the Oncology and Virology Practices at Cello Health BioConsulting (Previously Defined Health). He received a BA from the University of California at San Diego, a PhD in Medical Microbiology from the University of California at Berkeley, and an MA in English/Creative Writing from New York University. Learn More

Company team

Peter Sandor

SVP Oncology, Astellas Pharma

Peter serves as SVP Primary Focus Lead, responsible for strategic direction, execution and leadership of research, development, manufacturing and commercial of Immuno-Oncology at Astellas globally. Learn More

Company team

Asthika Goonewardene

Managing Director, Senior Biotech Analyst at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey

Asthika Goonewardene is a Managing Director at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey (STRH) covering biotechnology companies with a focus on cell therapy, immuno-oncology, and antibody technology. Prior to joining the STRH Biotech team in 2019, Asthika was a senior analyst with Bloomberg Intelligence, leading coverage of the global biotech sector. Before joining Bloomberg in 2011, Asthika worked as a senior management consultant at Datamonitor. He started his career as an analyst at OSI Pharmaceuticals in 2005, and first joined the sell-side in 2007, with the biotech team at Piper Jaffray in London. Asthika holds a BS in Biotechnology and an MBA in Technology Management from Rochester Institute of Technology. Learn More

Company team

Dr. Chris Sheldon

VP & Head of Oncology Business Development, AstraZeneca

Chris has worked in the UK at AstraZeneca (AZ) for over 17 years and is currently Vice President & Head of Oncology Business Development in AZ’s Oncology Research & Development Unit. Chris and his team are responsible for the scouting of all new oncology technologies and leading the technical evaluation of such new M&A, in-licensing, out-licensing (divestment) and collaboration targets in all stages of oncology development as well as academic collaborations and early-stage transactions/alliance management.

Most recently, he led the evaluation of AstraZeneca’s major $6.9bn co-development/co-promotion deal with Daiichi-Sankyo for Enhertu (trastuzumab deruxtecan) an antibody-drug conjugate. Previously Chris led both AZ’s majority $4 billion stake investment in Acerta Pharma for Calquence (acalabrutinib), a potential best-in-class BTK inhibitor in hematology and a $1.275bn immuno-oncology collaboration deal with innate Pharma for monalizumab a novel NKG2A inhibitor. Chris has also evaluated and executed over a dozen novel combination collaboration deals for AstraZeneca’s immune checkpoint inhibitor Imfinzi (durvalumab), best-in-class EGFR inhibitor Tagrisso (osimertinib) and first-in-class SERD Faslodex (fulvestrant).

Prior to this Chris worked as Head of Oncology Search & Evaluation in AZ’s Strategy team in its Oncology Business Unit (OBU) covering clinical stage opportunities as well as in early-stage oncology business development roles and was involved in all aspects of evaluation, due diligence and negotiation of deals. Before his business development career, Chris worked in discovery research at AstraZeneca as a senior research chemist. He also holds a PhD in chemistry from the University of Bristol, UK, and a first-class honours degree from the University of Sheffield, UK. Learn More