According to GlobalData, Curadev and Bayer are switching gears towards STING antagonists

According to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics firm, India-based Curadev's March 2020 licensing agreement with Bayer for the discovery and production of novel interferon gene stimulators (STING) antagonists across indications with high unmet need indicates the importance of the STING mechanism for research by top pharmaceutical companies.

As part of the partnership, Bayer acquires exclusive access to the software of novel STING antagonists. The firms will jointly develop new drugs for lung cancer, cardiovascular disease and other inflammatory diseases. In 2019 Curadev approved Takeda's STING agonist software (CRD5500).

Under the deal, in addition to research funding, Curadev will receive an upfront payment during the study period and will be liable for pre-clinical, clinical and sales milestones of potentially over EUR 250 million as well as royalties of single-digit net sales percentages.

Bhavani Nelavelly, Pharma Analyst at GlobalData, says: “Curadev’s STING antagonist platform is currently in the early stage of development and the collaboration with a top pharma company like Bayer reflects growing industry interest in exploring the therapeutic possibilities of STING antagonists. Among all the companies involved in STING race, Curadev is the first Indian player and is discovering candidates for both antagonists and agonists, and deals with major global players like Bayer and Takeda is expected to accelerate the drug development process.”

According to GlobalData’s Pharma Intelligence Center, AbbVie-Mavupharma, BMS, Merck, IFM Therapeutics-Novartis, Nimbus Therapeutics-Celgene (Celgene acquired by BMS), Aduro Biotech-Eli Lilly/Novartis and GSK are the major global players involved in the STING race.

Nelavelly adds: “Major pharma companies are looking to develop STING agonists for cancer immunotherapy and STING antagonists for autoimmune diseases. Despite the hype, the STING agonists appear to be modestly effective so far from the results seen with Merck’s MK-1454 in Phase I trial, which failed to achieve any partial or complete responses in solid tumors patients when used as a monotherapy.”

Nelavelly continues: “Based on the Phase I results, Merck has recently posted a Phase II trial evaluating MK-1454 in combination with pembrolizumab vs. monotherapy plus combination therapy evaluated in Phase I trial, which displays the Merck’s strategy to explore the drug in combination. Similarly Aduro has Phase II asset (ADUS-100), and results from Phase I trials were not so encouraging. Companies are scrambling to provide rationale for the poor translation of their preclinical models for STING agonists.”

Globally, 42 STING agonists are under development and 8 STING antagonists are under development. Most STING agonists are in the preclinical stage of development, with nine properties in clinical stage, while the STING antagonists have not yet reached the clinical stage.


Nelavelly concludes: “The Curadev and Bayer agreement shows the switch in gears towards STING antagonists now, as they have been the major hope for the past several years. The focus on developing targets for lung and cardiovascular disorders will give the first mover advantage to both companies, as these areas are still on high unmet clinical need with less industry involvement, provided they prove the value of these programs through effective clinical development strategy.”


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Notes to Editors

  • Comments provided by Bhavani Nelavelly, Pharma Analyst at GlobalData
  • This press release is written using data and information sourced from proprietary databases, primary and secondary research, and in-house analysis conducted by GlobalData’s team of industry experts

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According to GlobalData, Curadev and Bayer are switching gears towards STING antagonists

According to GlobalData, Curadev and Bayer are switching gears towards STING antagonists

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