BioNTech licenses bispecific antibody for cancer in $1 billion deal

By Jonathan Smith

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images
© Getty Images

Related tags Bispecific antibodies Monoclonal antibodies Biotechnology Cell culture Pharmacology BioNTech

The German mRNA giant BioNTech has sealed a pact worth up to $1 billion with Biotheus to develop the Chinese biotech company’s bispecific antibody cancer drug PM8002 in all territories except for Greater China.

The candidate is in phase 2 testing in China for the treatment of solid tumors as a monotherapy or combined with chemotherapy.

According to the terms of the license agreement, which is expected to close later this year, BioNTech is due to pay Biotheus $55 million upfront. Biotheus could also receive up to $1 billion in development, regulatory and sales milestones in addition to potential royalties.

“Collaborating with industry trailblazer BioNTech, we hope to advance PM8002 through multi-regional clinical trials with the aim to be able to provide it to patients worldwide," said Xiaolin Liu, co-founder, chairman, and CEO of Biotheus in a public release​.

PM8002 consists of an antibody that can bind to two different antigens at the same time, also known as a bispecific antibody. It is designed to target PD-L1, a protein that cancer cells use to evade the immune system, and VEGF-A, a protein that can help tumors to grow and spread.

BioNTech is best known for commercializing an mRNA vaccine against Covid-19 during the global pandemic in collaboration with Pfizer, but has a broad pipeline of many types of therapies. The company teamed up with Biotheus earlier this year to gain options to rights a preclinical-stage bispecific antibody and a clinical-stage monoclonal antibody for the treatment of cancer.

In addition to bispecifics, BioNTech has been sealing pacts to develop other types of antibody therapeutics. In March 2023, for example, the company teamed up with the U.S. company OncoC4 to co-develop a monoclonal antibody candidate for the treatment of solid tumors. And in April 2023, BioNTech recruited the Chinese firm DualityBio for the development of antibody-drug conjugate therapeutics for solid tumors.

According to financial results published earlier this week, BioNTech made net profits of €160.6 million ($171.47 million) over the third quarter of 2023, leading its stock to rise by 4%. However, the company cut the expected revenues from its Covid-19 vaccine this year from around €5 billion ($5.3 billion) to around €4 billion ($4.3 billion).

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