Through its oncology-focused subsidiary Millenium pharmaceuticals, Takeda has made an undisclosed payment to Mersana for the use of its proprietary Fleximer ADC technology platform against a number of cancer targets.
Under the terms of the deal, Mersana will use the platform to conjugate Takeda’s antibodies to its own payloads - comprising of a cytotoxic warhead, the 'Fleximer' polymer and custom linkers - which offer a number of important and unique benefits, according to Chief Scientific Officer Timothy Lowinger.
He told Biopharma-Reporter.com the technology “provides several key advantages over currently available approaches,” including an increased drug load per antibody, the possibility of being used with antibody fragments, and the ability to deliver alternatives to anti-tubulin agents - inhibitors of cancer cell division used as the payloads in both of the approved and available ADCs, Adcetris and Kadcyla.
These benefits are attributed to the biodegradable nature of the Fleximer polymer as well as the “diverse array of proprietary, customizable linker chemistries complementary to the Fleximer platform,” also developed by Mersana he added.
“These linkers are fit-for-purpose and can be developed to address specific project requirements, such as controlling rate of drug release, controlling mechanism/localization of drug release, delivering multiple therapeutic agents, improving biodistribution, altering pharmacokinetics and fine-tuning half-life.”
Takeda is one of a select few companies who have invested in ADCs to have seen its product Adcetris - co-developed and marketed with Seattle Genetics - approved. This latest deal, as well as the recent licensing of the Trianni Mouse monoclonal antibody discovery platform, is evidence of further ambition in this field.
The firm will be responsible for the product development, manufacturing and commercialization of any prospective ADCs, Eva Jack, Chief Business Officer at Mersana told us, with Mersana eligible to receive significant milestones as well as royalties on worldwide net sales of such drugs.
However, Jack added that though Mersana worked with a number of major pharmaceutical companies (including Endo Pharmaceuticals who collaborated with the firm in 2012), it continued to own rights to its conjugation technology, as well as any improvements made to the technology.
“We have plans to utilize our platform to develop our own products,” she said, and “we expect to forge several additional collaborations surrounding Fleximer-ADC technology with additional leading antibody companies, as well as with companies that could benefit from using Fleximer to build their own pipeline of next-generation ADCs.”