$1 Billion Pfizer-Dren Bio Deal Highlights Another Day of Collaborations


California-based Dren Bio and Pfizer have partnered on a deal valued at more than $1 billion to discover and develop therapeutic bispecific antibodies for select oncology targets.

The collaboration will harness the power of Dren Bio’s proprietary Targeted Myeloid Engager and Phagocytosis Platform to select and advance these bispecific antibodies. Dren’s platform is designed to engage with a receptor selectively expressed on myeloid cells, including monocytes, macrophages and dendritic cells. In its announcement, Dren Bio explained that certain myeloid cells, such as Tumor-Associated Macrophages (TAMs), are part of the tumor microenvironment. There, they can be immunosuppressive, which means they are often associated with poorer clinical outcomes.

“By repolarizing TAMs and engaging them together with dendritic cells to execute targeted phagocytosis, antigen presentation, and subsequent T cell activation, the company’s platform antibodies may expand the therapeutic benefit of immunotherapy while also potentially promoting durable clinical responses,” Dren said in its announcement.

Under terms of the collaboration, Pfizer provided Dren with an upfront payment of $25 million. Dren is eligible to receive more than $1 billion in total, including milestone payments for the multiple targets. For each target-specific product that is globally licensed by Pfizer, Dren Bio will be eligible for tiered royalties. Pfizer will oversee all clinical development.

“This agreement highlights Dren Bio’s expertise in therapeutic antibody development and marks the first collaboration using our proprietary platform to harness myeloid cells in disease, offering a differentiated approach with the potential to provide revolutionary therapies to patients across a broad array of therapeutic areas, starting with cancer,” Nenad Tomasevic, chief executive officer of Dren Bio said in a statement.

Dren and Pfizer were not the only companies to announce collaborations this week. BioSpace highlights several announcements.

Allogene Partners with Swiss Cell and Gene Therapy Company Antion Biosciences

Bay Area-based Allogene and Switzerland’s Antion Biosciences struck a collaboration and licensing agreement for Antion’s miRNA technology (miCAR). Allogene aims to advance multiplex gene silencing in order to develop next-generation allogeneic CAR T products.

Allogene intends to harness the capabilities of Antion’s proprietary Tunable Expression Modulators (TEM) and miCAR technologies, which it believes will allow efficient, simultaneous multi-gene silencing and gene addition in a single step. That means the technology can enable the creation of multimodal treatments. Allogene struck the deal after Antion demonstrated proof-of-concept for multiplex gene silencing in an allogeneic CAR T cell model.

Allogene plans to deploy miCAR along with other technologies to develop next-generation strategies for immune evasion and other advances in allogeneic CAR T therapy, the company said in its announcement.

Under terms of the agreement, Allogene will provide Antion with an upfront cash payment of an undisclosed sum. The company will also make a preferred equity investment. Developmental and commercial milestones, as well as a single-digit royalty on any product sales will also be made to Antion.

Evotec Expands Partnership with BMS

Germany’s Evotec SE and Bristol Myers Squibb expanded a collaboration in neurodegenerative diseases to discover and develop new therapies aimed at these indications. The two companies intend to harness the capabilities of targeted protein degradation to target diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

The two companies first partnered in neurodegeneration in 2016. The initial partnership had a goal to identify disease-modifying treatments for a broad range of neurodegenerative diseases. The collaboration leverages Evotec's industrialized iPSC platform using patient-derived disease models. The focus of the expanded partnership will be on selected targets relevant to a range of neurodegenerative conditions. BMS said the expansion of the agreement will increase its access to a novel targeted protein degradation approach.

BMS provided Evotec with $15 million in upfront payment under terms of the expanded deal.

Fosun Pharma Pairs with AI Company Insilico Medicine

China’s Shanghai Fosun Pharma and artificial intelligence company Insilico Medicine struck a collaboration agreement to advance the discovery and development of drugs targeting multiple targets. The partnership includes an AI-driven drug discovery research and development collaboration on four biological targets, as well as the co-development of Insilico's QPCTL program. The collaboration aims to combine Insilico's end-to-end AI-driven drug discovery platforms and Fosun Pharma's clinical development capabilities.

Fosun Pharma's R&D team is expected to nominate four therapeutic targets to be assessed by Insilico's AI platform. The Insilico R&D team will be responsible for advancing the drug candidates to IND stage. 

Under terms of the agreement, Insilico will receive a $13 million upfront payment. The company is also eligible for milestone payments. Additionally, Fosun Pharma will make an equity investment in Insilico.

Fusion Pharmaceuticals Teams up with Pepscan Therapeutics

Fusion Pharmaceuticals and Pepscan Therapeutics BV forged a partnership to discover and develop novel, peptide-based radiopharmaceuticals for the treatment of various solid tumors. Fusion Chief Executive Officer John Valliant said his company’s capabilities to develop targeted alpha therapies will be boosted by Pepscan’s proprietary platform for peptide discovery. Pairing the capabilities is expected to bolster Fusions radiopharmaceuticals pipeline, Valliant said.

Under terms of the agreement, Fusion has global rights to develop and commercialize any peptides that are discovered under the collaboration. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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