Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) is an umbrella term for a group of cancers affecting the body’s lymphocytes, including B-cell cancer. Chronic cell lymphoma (CLL) is an incurable cancer that affects B-cells. Both NHL and CLL patients are normally treated with combinations of cytotoxic drugs, targeted therapies, such as Bruton’s tyrosine kinase inhibitors (e.g. Ibrutinib (Imbruvika®, Janssen; Imbruvica, AbbVie), and monoclonal antibodies targeting CD20 (e.g. rituximab (Rituxan®), Mabthera®, Roche). Over 600,000 patients globally are affected annually by NHL and CLL. Sales of rituximab are in excess of $7 billion per annum.
TB-403 in paediatric brain tumours
- development in collaboration with Oncurious, subsidiary of ThromboGenics
TB-403 is a humanised antibody directed against the PlGF protein, which is believed to inhibit its signaling via the Nrp-1 receptor. PlGF is expressed in certain paediatric cancers including medulloblastoma, Ewing’s sarcoma, neuroblastoma and alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma.
TB-403 is currently in a Phase I/II study for the treatment of patients with medulloblastoma in cooperation with a US based pediatric oncology network, Beat Childhood Cancer. The study progresses and the second dose level is ongoing.
TB-403 has received Orphan Drug Designation for medulloblastoma from the European Medicines Agency.
TB-403 is being developed in collaboration with Oncurious, a subsidiary of ThromboGenics. In July 2017, BioInvent’s ownership in TB-403 increased from 40 to 50 percent following renegotiation of the longstanding collaboration agreement signed in 2004. BioInvent continues to contribute 50 percent of the development costs.
Patents for TB-403 and similar antibodies have been granted in Europe, the US, Japan and several additional countries, and patent applications are pending in further countries. Patents covering use of antibodies against PIGF, for example for the purpose of treating or preventing cancer, have also been granted, including in the US.
THR-317 in Diabetic Macular Edema
- under development by ThromboGenics
THR-317 is being evaluated in a Phase II trial in patients with diabetic macular edema (DME). In July 2017 the cooperation agreement from 2004 was renegotiated. Under the amended arrangement, ThromboGenics gains full and exclusive ownership of THR-317 for development and commercialization in all non-oncology indications. ThromboGenics will continue to carry all costs for the development of THR-317 in non-oncology indications, and BioInvent is entitled to five percent of the project’s economic value.
Patents for the antibody have been granted in Europe, the US, Japan and several additional countries, and patent applications are pending in further countries.
Developing antibodies that act on regulatory T cells (Tregs) via either novel or validated targets
Tregs can substantially inhibit various immune responses, enabling tumour cells to escape detection. BioInvent is utilizing its F.I.R.S.T.™ platform to identify and characterize monoclonal antibodies to cancer-associated Treg targets in a function-first, target agnostic, manner. The company is also pursuing differentiated antibodies to known targets through novel mechanisms and pathways.
Strategic collaboration with Pfizer - developing antibodies that act on tumour-associated myeloid cells
In December 2016, BioInvent announced that it has entered into a cancer immunotherapy research collaboration and license agreement with Pfizer Inc. to develop antibodies targeting tumour-associated myeloid cells. BioInvent leverages its expertise to identify novel oncology targets and therapeutic antibodies that inhibit cancer growth either by reversing the immunosuppressive activity of tumour-associated myeloid cells or by reducing the number of tumour-associated myeloid cells in the tumour. The collaboration is progressing well – a pool of antibodies has been generated, that will now be characterized for functional activity.
Under the terms of the agreement BioInvent could be eligible for potential future development milestones in excess of $0.5 billion (assuming five antibodies are developed through to commercialisation). The company could also receive up to double digit royalties related to product sales. In return Pfizer will have the right to develop and commercialise any antibodies generated from this agreement.
BioInvent received an upfront payment of $3 million when the agreement was signed in December 2016, and $1 million in research funding has been received during 2017. Pfizer also made a $6 million equity investment in new shares of BioInvent when the agreement was signed.
Partnership with Transgene – developing next generation oncolytic viruses expressing an anti-CTLA-4 antibody to treat solid tumours
BioInvent and Transgene collaborate to co-develop oncolytic virus (OV) candidates encoding a validated anti-CTLA-4 antibody sequence - potentially with additional transgenes - capable of treating multiple solid tumours.
Transgene is contributing both its OV design and engineering expertise, as well as its proprietary Vaccinia viruses. These oncolytic viruses are designed to directly and selectively destroy cancer cells by intracellular replication of the virus in the cancer cell (oncolysis). Oncolysis is important as it induces an immune response against tumours. In addition, the replication of the virus allows the expression of the genes carried by the oncolytic viral genome, including therapeutic “weapons” e.g. an immune modulatory anti-CTLA-4 antibody that boost immune responses against the tumor.
BioInvent is providing its cancer biology and antibody expertise to the collaboration, as well as anti-CTLA-4 antibody sequences generated through its proprietary n-CoDeR®/F.I.R.S.T.TM platforms. A lead anti-CTLA-4 antibody will be selected for encoding within the viral vectors. The local expression of such therapeutic antibodies delivered into the cancer cell is expected to augment the anti-cancer effects of viral oncolysis, by efficiently modulating the tumour micro-environment and increasing the immunogenicity of the tumour.
The research and development costs, as well as revenues and royalties from candidates generated from the collaboration, will be shared 50:50.
Encoding BioInvent’s anti-CTLA-4 antibody sequence in Transgene’s vaccinia virus backbone promises to optimize the efficacy of this potent checkpoint inhibitor, while reducing the side effects seen when it is given systemically. There is also the potential for this novel OV product to be significantly more effective than the combination of single agents. Transgene has generated preclinical proof-of-concept data showing that an oncolytic vaccinia virus encoded with a checkpoint inhibitor resulted in better overall survival than the corresponding combination of separate single agents.
Antibodies are nature’s own defence molecules. They are highly selective and very well-tolerated in their human form.
The antibody-based drug segment is one of the fastest growing segments in the global pharmaceutical market. Three of the world's top-selling antibody-based drugs are Rituxan/Mabthera® (rituximab, Roche), Herceptin® (trastuzumab, Roche) and Avastin® (bevacizumab, Roche). The combined sales of these drugs amounted to around USD 21 billion in 2016. In the next five years the patent protection for Rituxan/Mabthera® and Herceptin® will expire at the same time as new, improved combination therapies are expected to reach the market.