Ajinomoto and Bright Peak partner to develop immunocytokines

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/Poike
© GettyImages/Poike

Related tags Immunotherapy Oncology antibodies

Ajinomoto Co., Inc, and Bright Peak Therapeutics Inc. have entered into a research collaboration and license agreement to develop immunocytokines.

Basel, Switzerland based, Bright Peak, is a biotechnology company developing next generation immunotherapies for cancer and autoimmune disease. The deal sees it incorporate AJICAP, Ajinomoto Co.’s proprietary site-specific bioconjugation technology, for the development of immunocytokine molecules. 

There is potential for the combination of antibodies with Bright Peak's cytokine derivatives conjugated by AJICAP to target a wide range of oncology applications, said the parties.

A study published last October in Science Translational Medicine​, suggested immunocytokines were a promising immunotherapeutic approach against glioblastoma – brain cancer.

Bright Peak will receive exclusive worldwide rights to use the AJICAP technology for the conjugation of certain cytokine payloads, including but not limited to interleukin-2 (IL-2). It will make an exclusivity payment while Ajinomoto is eligible to receive development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments as well as royalties on commercial sales.

The technology

Bright Peak uses a ligation technology to chemically synthesize therapeutic cytokines by ligating together customized peptide segments. This proprietary platform provides flexibility to both tune and enhance cytokine biology through affinity modification and orthogonal, site-specific conjugation, respectively.

AJICAP is a proprietary site-specific bioconjugation technology compatible with commonly used antibody isotypes. Ajinomoto said the technology allows any therapeutic antibody to be conjugated to drug-payloads of choice without the need for antibody engineering or cell line development.

Dr Tatsuya Okuzumi, associate general manager, research and business planning department, Ajinomoto, told BioPharma-Reporter how this works: “Our AJICAP technology uses a certain peptide derivative that has a binding affinity to a specific region in the Fc part of an antibody. This peptide derivative has an ability to react with a specific Lys residue in an antibody, which is located close to the peptide binding site. This allows for the site-specific conjugation of the native antibody without genetic engineering.”

The ability to direct potent, homogeneous immune-signaling molecules to tumors and the tumor microenvironment may provide enhanced antitumor clinical benefit through immune cell cytotoxic activity, he added.

“The AJICAP conjugation technology is ideally suited to conjugate our enhanced cytokines as payloads to antibodies in the cancer and autoimmune field,”​ said Dr Sef Kurstjens, CEO of Bright Peak.

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