The oncology targets under this partnership and the duration of the alliance with BMS, however, have not been disclosed.
The collaboration will seek to discover new molecules utilizing MTEM’s next generation engineered toxin body (ETB) platform, a technology that leverages the resident biology of a genetically engineered form of Shiga-like Toxin A subunit to fight cancer and other serious diseases.
Under the terms of the agreement, MTEM will conduct research activities for the discovery of next generation ETBs for multiple targets, of which the first target has been selected by BMS, which will have the option to obtain an exclusive worldwide license to develop and commercialize ETBs directed to each selected target.
The deal sees MTEM receiving an up-front payment of US$70m; it will also eligible to receive near-term and development, regulatory and sales milestone payments of up to US$1.3 billion as well as tiered royalty payments on future sales.
MTEM also has multi-target research collaborations with Takeda and Vertex as well as a co-development collaboration with Takeda for TAK-169, an ETB targeting CD38 for multiple myeloma.
Attacking cancer cells
When asked about the clear advantages of ETB technology, the company’s CFO, Adam D Cutler, told BioPharma-Reporter: “ETBs are targeted, can induce their own internalization, even when the target receptor does not readily internalize, and can destroy cells through novel mechanisms of action including toxin-mediated ribosomal destruction. ETBs can also deliver additional payloads. For example, MT-6402, MTEM’s PD-L1 targeted ETB, delivers a viral antigen that is intended to make the cancer cell look like it is infected with a virus (in this case cytomegalovirus, or CMV) so that the immune system recognizes the cell as foreign and mounts an immune response to attack the cancer cell.”
As well as targeting CD38 for multiple myeloma, the project under co-development with Takeda, MTEM is developing an ETB targeting CD20 for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, HER2 for HER2-positive cancers including breast and gastric cancers, among others, said the CFO.
But are there limitations to the ETB treatment approach?
“The limitations include the typical ones for targeted therapies: the target needs to be overexpressed on cancer cells versus healthy cells. For each product candidate there needs to be an appropriate therapeutic window, where a dose is established that provides benefit without unacceptable levels of toxicity or side effects,” said Cutler.