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GEN News Highlights : Mar 12, 2013

Astellas and Ambit End Leukemia Drug Partnership

Just a few days after Galapagos and Roche ended their over three year-long fibrosis alliance, another alliance that's lasted about as long is being terminated: Astellas Pharma and Ambit Biosciences are ending their collaboration for the joint development and commercialization of FMS-like tyrosine kinase-3 (FLT3) inhibitors, including quizartinib (AC220), effective September 3, 2013. Astellas has exercised its right to terminate the worldwide license agreement signed in December of 2009, and over the months ahead the companies plan to work together to transfer current development activities to Ambit. Ambit will regain all rights granted to Astellas and continue with the quizartinib clinical trial program on the date of termination.

As part of the original 2009 deal, Ambit received an up-front payment of $40 million, and it was estimated at the time that precommercialization milestone fees under the deal could've reached $350 million. 

"While our decision is based on strategic reasons, we are proud of our collaborative work with Ambit, and we are committed to working with Ambit on a smooth transition," said Yoshihiko Hatanaka, president and CEO of Astellas. "We remain committed to the field of oncology as a major area of focus for the company and will continue to pursue our goal of becoming a global category leader in oncology."

"With the Phase II study results for quizartinib that were presented at the ASH Annual Meeting last December, we and members of the medical community continue to be excited about quizartinib and its potential to meet a significant, unmet need in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients," Michael Martino, president and CEO of Ambit, said. "We are fully committed to moving forward with the Phase III clinical trial plan and look forward to advancing this important drug candidate toward approval."