Sunesis Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Millennium: the Takeda Oncology Company have inked a license agreement to develop Sunesis’ oral, selective pan-Raf kinase inhibitor and one additional undisclosed kinase inhibitor program in oncology.

Sunesis is a biopharmaceutical company focused new oncology therapeutics to treat solid and hematologic cancers. Japan-based Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Ltd. was acquired by Massachusetts-based Millennium Pharmaceuticals Inc. in 2008. The companies are focused on pharmaceutical inhibitors, as well as other biopharmaceutical products.

Today’s announced program is part of Sunesis’ 2004 multi-kinase inhibitor collaboration with Biogen Idec. (NASDAQ: BIIB). In November 2010, Biogen announced its new focus on neurology; after its subsequent spin-out of its oncology assets, Millennium acquired two of these oncology assets, which it will continue to develop with Sunesis.

“We are delighted to transition our collaboration with Sunesis on these oncology programs to Millennium, a world-class oncology organization,” said Steven Holtzman, executive vice president of Corporate Development at Biogen stated. “We look forward to seeing the oncology programs progress under Sunesis and Millennium’s new collaboration, as we continue to drive forward our partnership with Sunesis on our immunology program.”

For Millennium, the program enhances the company’s portfolio of oncology therapies and creates an opportunity for continued development.

“These kinase inhibitor programs represent an important addition to our portfolio and reflect our strategy to develop novel oncology therapies by targeting the underlying pathways of the disease process,” Nancy Simonian, M.D., chief medical officer of Millennium stated in the press release. “In addition, the Raf kinase inhibitor investigational agent offers a compelling development opportunity as it targets a clinically validated pathway. We look forward to building on the strong preclinical dataset as we advance this program into clinical trials.”

Per the agreement between Biogen and Millennium, Sunesis has received a $4 million upfront payment from Millennium. In addition, Sunesis will continue to be eligible to receive up to $60 million in pre-commercial milestone program payments and royalties on sales of future collaboration products. Sunesis also retains its future co-development and co-promotion rights.

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