EMD Serono teams with Sutro Biopharma for ADCs

Sutro could receive up to $375 million in milestone payments, in addition to an undisclosed upfront payment

Kelsey Kaustinen
ROCKLAND, Mass.—EMD Serono Inc., a subsidiary of Merck KGaA, and San Francisco-based Sutro Biopharma have launched a collaboration and license agreement to develop antibody drug conjugates (ADCs).
 
Per the terms of the agreement, Sutro will receive an upfront payment of an undiclsoed amount from EMD Serono, who will also fund certain research and development activities. In addition, Sutro stands to receive up to $375 million if certain research, development and regulatory milestones are met and is eligible for royalties on sales of any products resulting from the collaboration.
 
The companies will collaborate on the discovery and development of multiple ADCs using Sutro’s cell-free protein synthesis platforms, Xpress CF and Xpres CF+. Sutro will be responsible for delivering ADCs for Phase 1 clinical trials, while EMD Serono will be responsible for clinical development and commercialization of any products that result.
 
“We continue to explore opportunities that will allow us to better understand the potential ADCs have in directly targeting cancer cells,” Andree Blaukat, senior vice president and head of Translational Innovation Platform Oncology at the biopharmaceutical division of Merck KGaA, commented in a statement. “This collaboration with Sutro is reflective of our ongoing commitment to advancing innovation that may provide new therapies for patients.”
 
“This partnership will help us to advance our position as a leading drug discovery partner to renowned pharmaceutical companies like EMD Serono,” William J. Newell, CEO of Sutro, said in a press release detailing the agreement. “Together with EMD Serono, we will further advance our efforts to develop antibody therapeutics, engineered to deliver a cytotoxic agent to cancer cells. Our technology has been developed to allow loading of an antibody with multiple different agents, and to enable a potential higher uptake of the drug in the tumor cell through an improved stability of the ADC.”
 
This is the second collaboration in as many weeks for EMD Serono, as the company announced a collaborative research agreement with Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) on Sept. 2. Under that agreement, the organizations will be working to further the available knowledge on Systemic Lupus Erythematosus and Lupus Nephritis pathogenesis. EMD Serono Immunology scientists and MGH investigators will work together to better characterize and validate the expression of investigative thearpuetic targets, pathogenic immune cell types and biomarkers in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus and Lupus Nephritis patients.

Kelsey Kaustinen

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