A homegrown partnership

U.K. companies Kymab and Heptares partner on GPCRs against cancer

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CAMBRIDGE, U.K. & LONDON—In a new U.K. partnership, Kymab Limited and Heptares Therapeutics, the wholly owned subsidiary of Sosei Group Corporation, have announced a strategic collaboration for the discovery, development and commercialization of novel antibody therapeutics targeting multiple G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). The initial focus for this collaboration will be the field of immuno-oncology.
Cells of the innate and adaptive immune system widely express GPCRs, which play significant roles in modulating cell migration and recruitment to the tumor environment, activation, survival, proliferation and differentiation.
“GPCRs have long been intractable targets for antibody discovery, resulting in a dearth of products. We believe that our proven StaR technology can unlock this substantial opportunity, not just in immuno-oncology, but also across other therapeutic areas where GPCR-targeted biologics could have a significant impact. By entering into strategic collaborations with companies with world-leading antibody discovery technologies, such as Kymab, we have the potential to discover, develop and commercialize a highly valuable pipeline of new biologic products,” Malcolm Weir, chairman and CEO of Heptares, remarked in a statement regarding the partnership.
Per the terms of the agreement, Heptares will leverage its StaR platform for the creation of stable antigens based on multiple GPCR targets selected by the two companies, after which Kymab will apply its Kymouse human antibody discovery platform to generate antibodies in response to immunization with the antigens. Any leads will be progressed by Kymab and Heptares to the clinic. Though no specific financial details were disclosed, the agreement stipulates that the two companies will share the costs of each antibody discovery and development program.
“Antibodies are important therapeutic agents for cancer and other indications,” David Chiswell, CEO of Kymab, said in a press release. “Our collaboration with Heptares will allow us to combine stable antigens based on multiple GPCR targets with our world-class Kymouse platform, which has unparalleled diversity and will therefore rapidly identify and yield highly selective potent human monoclonal antibodies for unmet medical needs.”
This is the second cancer-based deal Kymab has announced so far this year. In January, the company announced a strategic cancer drug discovery and development alliance with the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, specifically MD Anderson’s Oncology Research for Biologics and Immunotherapy Translation. The organizations will focus on the development of novel monoclonal antibodies for various cancer types as well as the identification of biomarkers. The alliance is slated for an initial run of five years.
Just over a week before the collaboration with Kymab, Heptares also shared news of an agreement in neurology, saying that it had begun a definitive agreement with Allergan Pharmaceuticals International Ltd., the wholly owned subsidiary of Allergan plc, under which Allergan licensed exclusive global rights to a portfolio of novel subtype-selective muscarinic receptor agonists under development for the treatment of major neurological disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease.
Heptares will receive $125 million in an upfront payment, and is eligible to receive up to $665 million in contingent milestone payments tied to successful Phase 1, 2 and 3 clinical development and launch of the first three licensed compounds for multiple indications. Heptares could also receive up to roughly $2.5 billion if certain annual sales thresholds are met in the years following product launch, as well as up to double-digit tiered royalties on net sales of products that result from the agreement.

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