MedImmune, Tanabe Research Laboratories ink deal to develop ADCs

The companies will leverage MedImmune's PBD-based drug warhead technology to create monospecific and bispecific antibody-drug conjugates against cancer targets

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SAN DIEGO & GAITHERSBURG, Md.—A strategic collaboration and licensing agreement was announced Wednesday between MedImmune, the global biologics research and development arm of AstraZeneca, and Tanabe Research Laboratories U.S.A. Inc. (TRL), a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corp. TRL will leverage MedImmune’s pyrrolobenzodiazepine (PBD)-based warhead and linker technology to generate monospecific and bispecific antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) for evaluation in various cancers.
“This is an important start for our pioneering work in the field of mono- and bi-specific therapeutic ADCs, and we are excited to explore innovative therapeutic approaches in collaboration with one of the world’s leading biotech companies,” Dr. Roland Newman, chief scientific officer at TRL, noted in a statement.
Per the terms of the deal, TRL will have an exclusive license to MedImmune’s next-generation PBDs, and the two organizations will combine them with TRL's antibodies to develop next-generation ADCs against several cancer targets. Though no specific financial details were released, MedImmune will receive an upfront payment and development and commercial milestone payments, in addition to single-digit royalties on worldwide net sales of products resulting from the agreement. MTPC will assume responsibility for preclinical research, development, manufacturing and later-stage activities, including global commercialization. MedImmune will have the option to an exclusive license for the development and commercialization of the programs in the United States and Europe at the completion of a Phase 1b clinical trial.
MedImmune’s PBD technology offers cytotoxic agents for attachment to specific cancer-targeting antibodies, which results in a targeted ADC approach that could help to maximize the deliver of a cancer drug to a tumor.
Ronald Herbst, vice president of Oncology Research & Development at MedImmune, said, “Developing next-generation antibody-drug conjugates, including our proprietary PBD technology, is one of our key strategic areas of focus in oncology. Today’s collaboration with Tanabe Research Laboratories supports our efforts to grow our ADC portfolio through both internal activities and external partnerships, with the goal of generating novel treatments to meaningfully improve the lives of cancer patients.”
In other cancer-focused partnering news for MedImmune, the company also recently announced the launch of a new laboratory focused on discovering and developing novel biologic cancer diagnostics. The center, the CRUK-MEDI Alliance Laboratory, is based in Cambridge, United Kingdom, and is an innovative collaboration between MedImmune, Cancer Research UK and its commercial arm, Cancer Research Technology. Scientists from Cancer Research UK and MedImmune will collaborate to share knowledge and expertise, combining MedImmune’s world-class human antibody phage display libraries and protein-engineering experience with Cancer Research UK's cancer biology knowhow. Cancer Research UK has provided equipment and operational funding for the lab, and will also contribute a portfolio of novel drug targets, while MedImmune will manage the drug discovery process for accepted projects.

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