Boehringer Ingelheim nets NBE-Therapeutics for €1.18B

NBE-Therapeutics will remain at its Basel, Switzerland, campus and operate within Boehringer Ingelheim’s R&D network

Mel J. Yeates
Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash

INGELHEIM, Germany & BASEL, Switzerland—Boehringer Ingelheim recently announced that the company has signed a binding agreement for acquiring all shares of NBE-Therapeutics GmbH, a clinical-stage Swiss biotechnology company focused antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) and advancing targeted cancer therapies derived from its iADC platform.  

With this transaction, Boehringer Ingelheim will gain access to the immune stimulatory iADC platform, which creates antibody-drug conjugates with an anthracycline payload to directly target tumor cells and induce a long-lasting immunological anti-tumor effect. Its technology also incorporates a proprietary enzymatic conjugation step, which allows for the site-specific conjugation of small molecule drugs to monoclonal antibodies — overcoming liabilities related to limited serum stability and heterogeneous linkage. 

“NBE-Therapeutics’ iADC platform adds exceptional tumor targeting capabilities to our oncology portfolio. Together with our immune cell-targeting assets, this could enable new powerful combinations that will allow for efficacious and durable treatments for patients. This acquisition is a further example of Boehringer Ingelheim’s long-term strategy to enhance our position as an innovator of novel cancer therapies for patients in need,” stated Michel Pairet, a member of Boehringer Ingelheim’s board of Managing Directors with responsibility for the company’s Innovation Unit. “We welcome NBE-Therapeutics’ richly talented team to Boehringer Ingelheim and we look forward to collaborating with them on this important work.”

NBE-Therapeutics’ lead candidate, NBE-002, is an anti-ROR1 antibody-drug conjugate. ROR1 is a receptor tyrosine kinase expressed in various hematologic and solid malignancies, including triple negative breast cancers and lung adenocarcinoma. The compound is currently in Phase 1 clinical studies for triple negative breast cancer and other solid tumors.  

The total transaction is valued at €1.18 billion, and also includes contingent clinical and regulatory milestones. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, and is expected to conclude in the first quarter of 2021.

“I am extremely proud of the NBE-Therapeutics’ team and delighted that our world class ADC expertise is being recognized by Boehringer Ingelheim,” noted Bertrand Damour, CEO of NBE-Therapeutics. “This transaction is a validation of our platform and its potential for the next generation cancer therapies. We look forward to progressing NBE-002, our lead program and best-in-class anti ROR1 ADC, and to continuing the fight against cancer alongside Boehringer Ingelheim with its strong clinical development capabilities.”

Boehringer Ingelheim says that the acquisition of NBE-Therapeutics will strengthen the company’s strategic focus on targeted cancer cell-directed therapies, and complements existing capabilities in antigen discovery, as well as antibody and T-cell engager technologies. It also builds on Boehringer Ingelheim’s other recent strategic acquisitions and collaborations, including Vira Therapeutics and AMAL Therapeutics.

Boehringer Ingelheim has also just announced the initiation of a Phase 1/2a clinical investigation of BI 767551 — a new SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibody — along with the Cologne University Hospital (UKK), the University of Marburg (UMR), and the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF).

By combining UKK, UMR and DZIF’s expertise in virology, immunology, and clinical investigation with Boehringer Ingelheim’s expertise in developing and manufacturing therapeutic antibodies, the partners developed BI 767551 as a potential new therapeutic and preventive/prophylactic option for fighting COVID-19.

“With BI 767551, we aim to provide an effective option for preventing and treating COVID-19,” explained Professor Florian Klein, director of the Institute for Virology at the Cologne University Hospital, and principal investigator at the DZIF.

Virus neutralizing antibodies are being investigated both as a therapy option for infected individuals, and as prevention or prophylaxis. Directly delivering BI 767551 to the lung by inhalation has the potential to provide fast acting protection from virus infection in the respiratory tract.

“We are excited to contribute to the development of BI 767551 in collaboration with our partners, with the aim to provide an innovative SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibody, combining a systemic with an inhaled route of administration,” Pairet pointed out in a press release.

BI 767551 was derived from blood samples of recovered COVID-19 patients at UKK, examined for SARS-CoV-2 neutralization at UMR, and further developed in collaboration with Boehringer Ingelheim. The clinical study will be led by Klein and Professor Gerd Fätkenheuer at UKK, and Boehringer Ingelheim will supply the antibody.  

“Monoclonal antibodies are a promising component in the fight against new viruses, such as the SARS-CoV-2. If this antibody turns out to be effective against COVID-19, this finding could be helpful in the current and also in future epidemics and pandemics. I am glad that we are able to assist in the development of this compound,” added Prof. Stephan Becker, director of the Institute of Virology at University of Marburg, and coordinator of Emerging Infections at DZIF.


Mel J. Yeates

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