The partnership will generate and develop therapeutics for oncology: as well as exploring areas outside oncology where the technology holds potential.
CytomX will receive an upfront payment of $35m, including $5m of pre-paid research funding. Furthermore, it will continue to receive research funding and is eligible to receive up to approximately $1.2bn in future development, regulatory, and commercial milestone payments. The company is also eligible to receive tiered royalties on global net sales of any products that are commercialized under the agreement.
Opening up mRNA possibilities
San Francisco-headquartered CytomX’s mission is to pioneer a novel class of conditionally activated biologics, powered by its Probody technology platform – thus aiming to ‘transcent the limits of current cancer treatments’.
The clinical stage biopharma company has already established strategic collaborations with multiple leaders in oncology, including AbbVie, Amgen, Astellas, Bristol Myers Squibb and Regeneron.
Moderna and CytomX say their new collaboration will draw on the core scientific advances made by both companies. Moderna's mRNA platform builds on continuous advances in basic and applied mRNA science, delivery technology and manufacturing, and has allowed the development of therapeutics and vaccines for infectious diseases, immuno-oncology, rare diseases, cardiovascular diseases, and autoimmune diseases. CytomX's Probody technology, meanwhile, enables proteins to be activated locally in diseased tissue, while remaining masked in systemic circulation.
These advances open up the strategy of encoding potent, masked biologics with mRNA, for the potential treatment of a wide range of diseases, say the companies.
"We are excited to enter this collaboration with CytomX to combine our technologies and to potentially bring mRNA-based conditionally activated therapies to patients," said Rose Loughlin, Ph.D., Moderna's Senior Vice President for Research and Early Development. "Moderna and CytomX have a shared vision of investing at the intersection of biology and technology to transform the lives of patients, and this collaboration will expand applications of our growing therapeutics pipeline."
Moderna and CytomX will collaborate on discovery and pre-clinical development and Moderna will lead clinical development and commercialization of therapeutics. The agreement also provides Moderna with an option to participate in a future equity financing by CytomX.
"At CytomX, we have always embraced bold science in building the potential of Probody therapeutics and we are thrilled to be joining forces with Moderna in oncology as well as expanding our technology to areas outside oncology where we believe there is great potential," said Sean McCarthy, D.Phil, CEO and Chairman of CytomX. "Moderna's global impact has shown the enormous power of mRNA and we look forward to working closely with our newest collaborator to bring novel, mRNA-based conditionally activated therapeutics to patients with unmet medical needs."
Building up partnerships
CytomX's pipeline consists of therapeutic candidates across multiple treatment modalities: including antibody-drug conjugates, T-cell engaging bispecific antibodies, and immune modulators such as cytokines and checkpoint inhibitors.
CX-2029 is an investigational conditionally activated ADC directed toward CD71, which has demonstrated encouraging antitumor activity in patients with squamous non-small cell lung cancer and is being developed in collaboration with AbbVie.
CytomX's clinical pipeline also includes cancer immunotherapeutic candidates against targets such as the CTLA-4-targeting Probody therapeutics, BMS-986249 and BMS-986288, partnered with Bristol Myers Squibb, as well as CX-904, a conditionally activated T-cell-engaging bispecific antibody targeting the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) on tumor cells and the CD3 receptor on T cells, which is partnered with Amgen.
CytomX also has a preclinical portfolio of wholly-owned assets including CX-801, an interferon alpha-2b Probody cytokine that has broad potential applicability in traditionally immuno-oncology sensitive as well as insensitive (cold) tumors and CX-2051, a conditionally activated ADC directed toward EpCAM, with potential applicability across multiple EpCAM-expressing epithelial cancers.