The partnership sees Abzena advance two prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA)-targeting monoclonal antibodies (mAbs). The mAbs will be developed as potential treatments for prostate cancer, the most common form of cancer in men.
To advance the therapies, Abzena, based in Cambridge, UK, will leverage its facilities in the UK and its newly-leased facility in San Diego.
The bioconjugation process will be carried out, for one of the antibodies, in the company’s Cambridge facilities before the work is then continued in its manufacturing facility in San Diego, which will take responsibility for clinical batch production.
Telix Pharmaceuticals, itself, is a relatively new company – established in January 2017 to develop radiopharmaceuticals and based in Melbourne, Australia.
Abzena and Telix began working together shortly after the latter was founded, as Abzena’s CEO, John Burt, explained: “This project follows on from the announcement made in July 2017 when Telix out licensed an anti-PSMA antibody from Abzena for the purpose of creating a radio-immunoconjugate. Abzena have been subsequently been working with Telix to further develop the bioconjugate process and cell line expressing the antibody.”
Despite the agreement only just going public, Burt explains that work has already begun: “This project is already underway with cell lines for the two products already being developed, once the cell lines are developed we will transfer the research cell banks to San Diego for further process development and creation of a master cell bank.
“Manufacturing runs will then be performed alongside continued development work for bioconjugation taking place in Cambridge ready to transfer to San Diego. We expect most of the substantial work to be completed within the next 15 months.”
The initial agreement sees Abzena receive $5.9m (€5.07) but the company is also due to receive licence fees and milestone payments should the mAbs show promise as therapeutic agents.
Not the only iron in the fire
When asked about the work the company is performing outside of the deal, Burt noted how strengthening its facilities outside of the UK has paid dividends: “Abzena is currently developing cell lines for 10 different therapeutics for multiple companies. It is utilising Abzena’s capabilities and capacities across multiple sites with the cell line development taking place in the UK and process development and manufacturing taking place in San Diego that allow us to comfortably perform multiple projects.”