“We believe Celltrion's in-depth knowledge and experiences in antibody development and production and Genuv's expertise in novel antibody discovery with our Shine Mouse platform could generate great synergies in providing innovative antibody therapeutics,” said Sungho Han, CEO of Genuv.
Under the terms of the agreement, Genuv will obtain milestone payments of up to US$25m if Celltrion exercises its option for joint R&D projects. If Celltrion's cumulative sales reach US$7.6bn after commercialization, the sales milestone will increase to US$689m.
Engineering antibodies with greater diversity
Seoul based Genuv maintains that its mouse platform generates antibodies with “greater diversity” compared to conventional mice.
“As we seek to drug more difficult targets, existing antibodies face limitations. A common challenge: creating diverse sets of antibody candidates to be able to respond to any antigens. We are engineering antibodies with greater diversity.
“We bypass this roadblock by developing multiple mouse platforms. Instead of a single one, we have a set of mouse platforms enabling greater antibody diversity. This generates antibodies that are able to recognize new and different epitopes – the part of the antigen molecule that an antibody attaches to.
“With the diverse antibodies generated by Shine Mouse and our additional platform NuvoMab (under development), we are targeting novel and difficult antigens with a variety of therapeutics against cancer, immune and neurological diseases,” explained the technology developer.
The platform has been used to generate two antibodies in the company’s pipeline: anti-PD-1 monoclonal antibody, GNUV201, and GNUV205, an IL-2-based immunocytokine anticancer drug that is made tumor-specific by leveraging the properties of GNUV201.
In January, Celltrion reported that it had inked a deal with Rani Therapeutics, whereby it would cooperate with the US biotech in developing an oral antibody treatment.
Under the deal, the Korean company will exclusively provide its biosimilar, CT-P43, referencing Stelara, to Rani's upcoming clinical and non-clinical tests for RT-111, an orally administered ustekinumab biosimilar targeted at psoriatic arthritis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and psoriasis, and it obtains a preferential right to develop and sell the drug on a global basis.
Rani has developed an oral delivery technology known as the RaniPill capsule, which is intended to replace subcutaneous or intravenous injection of biologics and drugs with oral dosing. In October last year, the company announced it had started preclinical development of RT-111.
Celltrion said the partnership will help the company expand its biosimilar portfolio in the future.