Through the licensing deal, Bristol Myers Squibb will gain the exclusive rights to access Tubulis’ ‘Tubutecan’ payloads in combination with the company’s proprietary P5 conjugation platform. The deal extends to a ‘selected number’ of differentiated antibody drug conjugates (ADCs) to treat solid tumors.
In return for providing access to its platform and payloads, Tubulis will receive an upfront payment of $22.75m (€20.73m). In addition, the company could earn over $1bn in development, regulatory, and commercial milestone payments, plus royalty payments on resulting marketed products.
Once BMS has selected an antibody target, Tubulis will provide the linker-payload to generate a ‘uniquely matched ADC’ for each antibody. After selecting an ADC candidate, BMS will be solely responsible for development, manufacturing, and commercialization.
According to the companies, the P5 platform and Tubutecans help create stable ADCs that have the potential to reduce unwanted target-independent toxicities and are optimized for on-target delivery of topoisomerase-1 inhibitors.
Emma Lees, SVP of research and early development at BMS, stated that Tubulis’ technologies offer the opportunity to overcome current challenges in the development of ADC therapeutics.
Tubulis itself says that its ADCs overcome the main limitations of ADC technologies to date, which the company suggests are target-independent toxicities, such as premature payload loss and unspecific cell uptake, restricted ADC design space to match target biology with appropriate payload class, and the right drug-to-antibody ratio.
Regarding its P5 conjugation platform, Tubulis claims that it allows for the rapid generation of ‘ultra-stable’ ADCs with linker stability and chemical flexibility. The company’s Tubutecan payloads have been designed to provide long-lasting in-vivo potency, where a single dose treatment can provide benefits in animal models over a period of 90 days.
A wave of ADC development
The last few years have seen a rapid rise in attention being paid to the potential of ADC therapies, culminating in the decision by Pfizer to purchase Seagen for $43bn.
Pfizer’s decision saw it gain access to Seagen’s pipeline of potential therapies, as well as acquiring the platform behind four out of 12 ADC therapies approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.
Following the deal, there has been an increase in investment and deals taking place across the industry centered on ADCs. This resulted in Adcendo, an ADC specialist, successfully extend a Series A funding round, and also saw Samsung investing into Araris Biotech, a fellow ADC-focused biotech.