MorphoSys and Immatics Biotechnologies enter strategic alliance in immuno-oncology

Collaboration aims to develop novel antibody-based therapies targeting tumor-associated peptides derived from intracellular proteins

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MARTINSRIED, Germany—MorphoSys AG and Immatics Biotechnologies GmbH have announced a strategic alliance to generate novel antibody-based therapeutics against multiple proprietary cancer antigens recognized by T cells. The collaboration agreement provides MorphoSys with access to several proprietary tumor-associated peptides (TUMAPs) discovered using Immatics' XPRESIDENT® platform to develop novel antibody-based therapeutics against these targets in a number of solid and hematological cancers. XPRESIDENT enables access to novel antibody targets associated with proteins that are present inside cancer cells. In return, Immatics will be provided with MorphoSys' Ylanthia® antibodies against a number of its TUMAPs, with proprietary development rights. The companies will pay each other milestones based on their respective development progress as well as royalties on marketed products. Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed.
Dr. Marlies Sproll, chief scientific officer of MorphoSys AG, commented: "We are delighted to join forces with Immatics, a world leader in discovering truly novel cancer targets that would be otherwise inaccessible for antibody-based therapies. This alliance opens up the intracellular target space for us and thus complements the therapeutic approaches we use in other oncology programs. We believe this collaboration will create several unique product opportunities for us based on truly differentiated compounds."
Dr. Harpreet Singh, chief scientific officer of Immatics Biotechnologies GmbH, added "The alliance with MorphoSys marks an important strategic milestone for Immatics. We are now entering the field of antibody-based therapeutics complementing our existing cancer immunotherapy pipeline. The combination of MorphoSys' outstanding capabilities to create antibodies and the unique access to intracellular targets through our XPRESIDENT discovery engine provides both partners the opportunity to jointly deliver the next generation of transforming antibody drugs for cancer patients with high unmet medical need."
Tumor cells differ from healthy cells in the expression of tumor-associated proteins. These proteins are degraded inside living cells into shorter fragments, called peptides, which are then shuttled to the cell surface. Specialized receptors on the cell surfaces, so-called major histocompatibility complex (MHC) receptors, display these peptides to the external environment thereby providing a snapshot of the cell's interior. The therapeutic programs now being pursued by Immatics and MorphoSys aim to discover Ylanthia antibodies against these MHC-bound peptide targets in order to kill the tumor cells. Immatics' XPRESIDENT discovery platform is the only known high-throughput research technology to directly identify, quantify, and prioritize these cancer-related peptides.
MorphoSys developed HuCAL, which the company believes is the most successful antibody library technology in the pharmaceutical industry. By successfully applying this and other patented technologies, MorphoSys has become a leader in the field of therapeutic antibodies, one of the fastest-growing drug classes in human healthcare.
Together with its pharmaceutical partners, MorphoSys has built a therapeutic pipeline of more than 100 human antibody drug candidates for the treatment of cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and Alzheimer's disease and others. With its ongoing commitment to new antibody technology and drug development, MorphoSys is focused on making the healthcare products of tomorrow. MorphoSys is listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange under the symbol MOR.
Immatics Biotechnologies GmbH is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company and a global leader in cancer immunotherapy with the leading target discovery platform. Its target discovery engine XPRESIDENT enables Immatics to discover novel relevant tumor-associated peptide (TUMAP) antigens derived from cellular (both intracellular and surface) proteins. These TUMAPs are presented by Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) receptors on the surface of tumor cells and constitute the basis for developing a range of rationally designed cancer immunotherapies such as cancer vaccines, protein-based compounds including antibodies and soluble T cell receptors and adoptive cellular therapies. The targets discovered by Immatics have a major advantage compared to other indirect approaches in that they are confirmed to be naturally expressed in primary cancer tissue. Immatics' lead product, IMA901, is in a pivotal Phase 3 study. Immatics' cancer vaccine pipeline also includes IMA910 for treatment of advanced colorectal cancer, and IMA950 for the treatment of glioma. Immatics signed a cancer immunotherapy collaboration with Roche in 2013 to research, develop and commercialize a number of new cancer peptide antigen-based immunotherapies, targeting primarily gastric, prostate and non-small cell lung cancer. Immatics is based in Tuebingen, Munich and Houston, TX, and employs over 90 people dedicated to the fight against cancer.

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