Compugen licenses novel oncology target to Seattle Genetics

Agreement provides Seattle Genetics with an initial evaluation period and an option for an exclusive worldwide milestone and royalty-bearing license for development and commercialization

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TEL AVIV, Israel—Compugen Ltd. has taken the wraps off a research collaboration agreement with Seattle Genetics Inc., covering a Compugen-discovered oncology target.
The agreement provides Seattle Genetics with an initial evaluation period and an option for an exclusive worldwide milestone and royalty-bearing license for development and commercialization of monoclonal antibody therapeutics addressing this novel target.
Eric Dobmeier, chief business officer for Seattle Genetics, points out that Compugen has a proprietary approach to identifying novel oncology targets.

"Under the collaboration, Seattle Genetics has an exclusive research license to evaluate monoclonal antibodies and antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) targeted to Compugen's target, and has an option to take an exclusive commercial license," he says. "Seattle Genetics became interested in this target due to its high expression on multiple solid tumors and restricted expression on normal tissues, as well as Compugen's intellectual property position."

Financial terms of the agreement have not been released.

"We are very enthusiastic about this new collaboration, our first with Seattle Genetics, a leading company in the rapidly growing field of monoclonal antibodies and antibody drug conjugates," says Dr. Anat Cohen-Dayag, president and CEO of Compugen. "The Compugen novel target that is the subject of this agreement has shown potential in a number of important unmet areas of cancer treatment."

According to Cohen-Dayag, that target has shown potential in a number of important unmet areas of cancer treatment, and therefore could fit the pipelines of various pharma and biotech companies in the field of mononclonal antibody therapeutics for cancer.
"The predicted molecule's existence and overexpression was demonstrated by Compugen in several of the most prevalent solid cancers in independent experimentally based studies," she adds.

The existence of the target, which is a previously unknown splice variant of a known oncology target, was initially predicted in silico through the use of Compugen's Monoclonal Antibody (mAb) Targets Discovery Platform. The predicted molecule's existence and overexpression in several of the most prevalent solid cancers was recently demonstrated in independent experimentally based studies.

Cohen-Dayag adds that Compugen has been pleased to see the continuing and growing interest of the industry with respect to its mAb Targets Discovery Platform.

"This unique capability, which addresses the key unmet market need in the rapidly growing antibody therapeutic field, is now serving as both the source of targets for collaborations, such as the one being announced today and our ongoing collaboration with Bayer Schering Pharma, and also to predict and select, in combination with other Compugen tools and capabilities, an inventory of potential targets for further internal development," she says.

The platform itself is not part of the agreement, nor is any other component of Compugen's discovery capabilities.

"As in all of Compugen's collaborations, the only deliverable from us is IP in the form of novel drug or diagnostic product candidates for which we will be entitled to receive future development milestone payments and royalties on commercialization," Cohen-Dayag explains. "Unfortunately, this continues to be an area of misunderstanding regarding Compugen within the financial community and even with some of our potential partners in the biopharma industry. We often see ourselves referred to as a bioinformatics, service or tools company, all of which are incorrect. We are a drug and diagnostic candidate discovery company, with our proprietary discovery capabilities based on computational modeling of key biological phenomena at the molecular level and then the integration of these models for predictive discovery of product candidates in each field of focus."

Compugen chairman Martin Gerstel says the company's business model provides three potential pathways for development and commercialization of its product candidate discoveries.

"Collaborations can be entered into before our prediction and selection of candidates is undertaken pursuant to 'discovery-on-demand' agreements, or with respect to existing Compugen product candidates, collaborations can be initiated prior to or at the proof-of -concept stage, or after additional preclinical activities have been undertaken by us," he says. "In all cases, these agreements provide Compugen with potential milestone payments and royalties on product sales or other revenue sharing arrangements. The decision as to which pathway we choose in each specific case will depend on many factors, such as proprietary knowledge or technology of a potential partner that could expedite and increase the probability of success of development or commercialization; the anticipated overall relationship with the potential partner; our assessment of the risk/reward profile of further development by us; and available financial terms at each point in time."

Cohen-Dayag notes that in view of Compugen's systematic and broadly applicable discovery capability, and the company's mission of being the leader in providing product candidates for development within the drug and diagnostic industries, it has two very important-but different-measures for success with respect to this first agreement with Seattle Genetics.  

"First is, of course, success in the development and commercialization of mAB products based on the collaboration target," Cohen-Dayag concludes. "The second measure is success in establishing an efficiently functioning and mutually supportive working relationship between the scientists at the two companies."

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