The deal – financial terms of which were not disclosed – will license MedImmune’s own pyrrolobenzodiazepine (PBD)-based platform of cytotoxic agents to Tanabe Research Laboratories, a Californian daughter company of Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharmaceutical Corporation. The warheads will be combined with TRL’s ADCs (antibody drug conjugates) to create cancer drugs.
MedImmune will receive upfront payment, as well as milestone payments and single digit royalties on worldwide sales of the drug.
Mitstubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation will handle pre-clinical research, development, manufacturing and later-stage activities, including global commercialization. MedImmune has the option to an exclusive license for the development and commercialization of the US and European programmes after Phase Ib trials.
The licensing agreement is part of MedImmune’s broader drive to enlarge its oncology portfolio through internal R&D and external partnerships. It has several ADC candidates in preclinical stage, while TRL has a programme of mono- and bi-specific antibodies targeting cancer cells.
David Berman, MedImmune senior VP of R&D and head of the Oncology Innovative Medicines unit (iMED) said the company’s proprietary pyrrolobenzodiazepine (PBD) provides antibody drug conjugate payloads with greater potency and a different mechanism of action to currently approved ADCs.
As with all ADCs, the PBD technology attaches cytotoxic agents to specific cancer-targeting antibodies using biodegradable linkers. The PBD toxin cross-links DNA in tumor cells, which helps contribute to their death.
“Coupling MedImmune’s PBD technology with specific cancer-targeting antibodies has the potential to improve the delivery of the cancer drug to the tumor and result in better outcomes for patients,” Berman told us.
“We are very pleased to join forces with MedImmune to further exploit our proprietary tumor specific antibodies,” said Naoki Sakurai, CEO, TRL.