The newly formed company, LA Cell, has licensed technology from cancer centre City of Hope which allows modified monoclonal antibodies to penetrate cells and target so-called "undruggable" disease-causing proteins.
The tech is based on a proprietary chemical modification of mAbs which lets them enter a cell's cytoplasm and nucleus while maintaining their ability to target specific proteins. The cell-penetrating platform will be combined with Sorrento's human antibody library to develop drugs.
The companies said the deal is worth more than $170m for the development of these modified mAbs, and includes an equity provision and upfront and milestone payments to City of Hope.
Cell tech platform
The tech was developed at City of Hope by Hua Yu, Billy Wilder endowed professor and co-head of the organisation’s immuno-oncology programme, and Andreas Herrmann, associate research professor.
LA Cell will combine the platform with mAbs from Sorrento's antibody portfolio to develop oncology biologics. Planned targets include c-MYC, mutated KRAS, STAT3, and FoxP3. The technology can also be applied to other indications, such as inflammation, auto-immune disorders, diabetes, central nervous systems (CNS), cardiovascular diseases and viral infections.
"City of Hope has a rich history of developing industry-changing biopharmaceutical technologies, including, most notably, the fundamental technology required for mammalian cell-based antibody production, as captured in the Cabilly patent estate," said Steven Rosen, chief scientific officer at City of Hope.
"This novel method to enable cell penetration of mAbs could be transformative for the field of biomedical research. More important, it could benefit patients worldwide who are in need of new and effective therapies. The ability to harness the inherent target specificity of antibodies against disease-causing molecules inside the cell could lead to the next generation of therapies against most severe diseases."