UK biotech in licensing deal with BMS on antibodies screening tool

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/Duncan_Andison
© GettyImages/Duncan_Andison

Related tags antibodies COVID-19 Drug development

IONTAS has announced a deal with Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) in relation to its platform for antibody identification.

The Cambridge, UK located biotech firm, which was recently integrated into the FairJourney Group, has entered into a licensing agreement with BMS regarding its proprietary mammalian display.

Under the terms of the deal, IONTAS will receive an upfront payment for accessing the technology platform and will work with BMS in establishing the platform within its facilities. It would also receive eventual royalty payments on all antibodies derived from the platform.

The deal validates the company’s innovative and promising technology, said a spokesperson for IONTAS.

Mammalian displays can support efficient antibody selection, which should make drug development possibly more successful by identifying antibodies with the best potential, and so reducing the time and money spent on those, which might not be ideal for large-scale development, argues the biotech.

The company said its platform enables full-length antibodies to be expressed in the context of a mammalian cell, thereby allowing selection based on function, stability, expression and developability.

“Our mammalian display system not only allows the screening of tens of millions of clones directly for binding but also has a unique advantage to detect developability issues. This allows us to ’fix’ problematic antibodies and identify them during early drug discovery. This can save the industry significant time and money by generating developable products faster,” ​said John McCafferty, that company’s chief scientific officer (CSO), and inventor of the platform.

COVID-19 neutralizing antibodies

Earlier this month, we reported​ on the news from IONTAS and FairJourney Biologics that they had discovered COVID-19 neutralizing antibodies, with great potential for monoclonal antibody treatment.

The panel of 15 potent SARS-CoV2 neutralizing antibodies are potential therapeutics for COVID-19, said IONTAS.

Working alongside vaccines, or as an alternative for those who respond poorly to vaccines, it is anticipated that monoclonal antibodies will play a vital role in the fight against COVID-19. Viral neutralizing antibodies can offer a two-in-one approach; to both treat symptomatic individuals and protect healthcare workers and at-risk groups.

“The virus gains entry into human cells through the interaction of a viral ‘spike’ protein interacting with a protein on the cell surface, called ACE. Our antibodies ‘block this door’ by binding to the spike protein and preventing this interaction with human cells,”​ McCafferty told BioPharma-Reporter.

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