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Home  »  Biotech and Healthcare News  »  Genmab commits to new bispecific cancer immunotherapy programme

Genmab commits to new bispecific cancer immunotherapy programme

12
2018
July

Genmab commits to new bispecific cancer immunotherapy programme

Danish biotech Genmab (Nasdaq Copenhagen: GEN) has paid $54m upfront and committed to pay up to $1.65bn in R&D, regulatory and commercial milestones to the private German biotech Immatics as part of a deal to discover and develop three next-generation bispecific cancer immunotherapies. Genmab, which is Europe’s largest biotech by market cap,  is a top 10 investee company for International Biotechnology Trust (IBT), accounting for 3.6% its NAV.

The deal is designed to combine Genmab’s proprietary antibody technologies and know-how with Immatics’ Xpresident targets and T-cell receptor (TCR) capabilities. Immatics’ bispecific TCR molecules are soluble fusion proteins that have two binding domains: an affinity-maturated TCR domain that recognises and binds to a tumour-specific peptide target presented in the context of HLA class I receptor; and a T-cell recruiting antibody domain directed against CD3 or other immuno-modulating T-cell surface proteins. The design of these novel biologics allows T cells to become activated and attack the tumour, regardless of the T cells’ intrinsic specificity.

Under the terms, Genmab will receive an exclusive license to three proprietary targets from Immatics, each of which has up to $550m in milestones plus royalties, with an option to license up to two additional targets at predetermined economics. The companies will conduct joint research, funded by Genmab, on multiple antibody and/or TCR-based bispecific therapeutic products. Genmab may elect to progress any resulting product candidates, and will be responsible for development, manufacturing and commercialisation.

Genmab is gearing up its internal R&D activities on the back of the growing royalties and milestones income from Darzalex (daratumumab), which is licensed to Johnson & Johnson, and Arzera, which is sold by Novartis. Darzalex is approved for in combination with other therapies both for newly diagnosed and relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma and as monotherapy for heavily pre-treated or double-refractory multiple myeloma. It is also in multiple Phase III studies for multiple myeloma and amyloidosis including studies using a new subcutaneous formulation. A key trial Maia, which should read out shortly,  is exploring Darzalex plus Celgene’s Revlimid as first line therapy in muliple myeloma and is more important for the US, where Revlimid dominates the market. However, earlier this year J&J terminated a phase Ib/II trial of Darzalex plus Tecentriq for non-small cell lung cancer, putting efforts to explore the drug in solid tumour indications into doubt, and separately ended a phase I study of Darzalex plus JNJ-63723283, an anti-PD-1 antibody, in multiple myeloma, due to lack of benefit.

 

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