Lilly investigating bispecific antibody tech to boost biologics pipeline

By Dan Stanton

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Bispecific antibodies Immune system

Lilly evaluating Genmab's bispecific antibody platform
Lilly evaluating Genmab's bispecific antibody platform
The evaluation of Genmab’s Duobody platform for the discovery and development of bispecific antibodies strengthens Eli Lilly’s biologics programme, the firm says.

Genmab’s Duobody platform is used to create bispecific antibodies, dual-targeting molecules which bind to two different epitopes either on the same, or on different targets that may improve antibody therapy of cancer, autoimmune, infectious and central nervous system disease, according to Lilly spokesperson Karen Glowacki.

She told these “multi-specific therapeutics will play a significant role in the future of biotechnology and is an area where Lilly has made, and will continue to make, strategic investments as part of [its] core biotechnology strategy.”

As part of the deal penned this week, Lilly is evaluating the capabilities of the platform in-house and, if proved successful, may enter a commercial agreement with the Denmark-based firm. This would be the second antibody technology licensing deal for Lilly in six months, having inked an agreement with ImmunoGen in August​.

That deal enabled Lilly to “leverage ImmunoGen’s antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) technology”​ along with its own monoclonal antibodies, Glowacki said, and was just one of “a number of strategic investments designed to further boost [its] oncology pipeline and speed to market a new generation of potentially breakthrough cancer medicines.”

Asked whether this latest deal indicated Lilly was overextending itself in attempting to make a therapeutic breakthrough, she responded: “I wouldn’t say we’re spreading resources thinly, rather we think both are valuable and given our strong focus in biologics we’re investing in both.”

Duobody Platform

The platform works by merging two antibodies into one “so that the antibodies can target two different targets on either the same cell or different cells,”​ and thus the molecule is more targeted, by combining two ways of treating cancer into one molecule, Genmab spokesperson Rachel Curtis Gravesen told

To generate bispecific antibodies, two IgG1s, each containing single matched mutations, are produced separately using standard mammalian recombinant cell lines. These two antibodies are then purified before being recombined under laboratory conditions resulting in a bispecific antibody product with yields upwards of 95%, according to the firm.

Genmab has already licensed its Duobody technology to two other pharma companies in order to test the platform, whilst also having product partnerships with Novartis and Janssen which could become lucrative earners.

Janssen, for example, is collaborating on twenty programmes with a potential deal value of over $3.6bn if all programmes are successful, Curtis Gravesen said, though she did acknowledge such an outcome is unlikely in drug development.

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