AbCellera to Collaborate with Tachyon, EQRx on Therapeutic Antibodies for Cancer

AbCellera CEO

AbCellera Chief Executive Officer Carl Hansen pictured above. (AbCellera)

Vancouver-based AbCellera is in a deal-making mood. The company, focused on antibody discovery, struck two separate collaborations over the past two days in order to advance the development of new, innovative medications.

This morning, the company announced a deal with Cambridge, Mass.-based EQRX that will leverage its AI-powered technology platform to identify novel antibody drug candidates for multiple disease targets across several therapeutic areas.  AbCellera will use its technology platform to investigate natural immune responses in order to identify those antibody drug candidates. The initial programs will focus on targets in oncology and immunology.

The collaboration aims to expand EQRx’s early-stage pipeline of novel medicines. EQRx, which launched last year, intends to then deliver these medications (upon approval) at “radically lower prices.” Carlos Garcia-Echeverria, chief of Rx creation at EQRx, said AbCellera’s operating system for antibody discovery and development provides the tools necessary to improve the development of new and affordable medications. He said EQRx looks forward to working with AbCellera to “advance unique clinical candidates against key disease targets.”

Financial terms of the collaboration were not disclosed.

AbCellera Chief Executive Officer Carl Hansen, Ph.D., said the company exists to create value through the connection of technology and innovation. He expressed pride in the collaboration with EQRx as it will accelerate that company’s goal of providing affordable medications for people across the United States.

“This partnership is yet another example of how we can apply our business model, creating greater value and alignment through deals that include the option to invest in programs,” Hansen said in a statement.

One day ago, AbCellera struck a deal with Texas-based Tachyon Therapeutics, Inc. to assist in the discovery of a new antibody that targets LEFTY1, which the companies said is a member of the transforming growth factor β (TGF-β) superfamily. LEFTY1 is a validated extracellular drug target that is expressed in advanced cancers.

Tachyon’s scientific founder Michael F. Clarke, Ph.D., noted that LEFTY1 is an important, but difficult drug target in solid tumors. The TGF-β superfamily, including LEFTY1, control numerous cellular functions, including proliferation, apoptosis, differentiation, epithelial-mesenchymal transition, adhesion, and migration, Tachyon said. LEFTY1 suppresses NODAL/SMAD2 and BMP7/SMAD5 pathways. In its announcement, Tachyon said as a secreted extracellular protein, “LEFTY1 represents an important target to control SMAD-dependent signals that promote the long-term growth and self-renewal of cancer stem cells.”

Hansen said the collaboration with Tachyon provides an opportunity to advance the LEFTY1 research into a first-in-class antibody therapeutic for cancer patients with advanced disease and limited treatment options.

“This collaboration exemplifies innovative deal structures that align our interest with our partners’ and provides AbCellera with optionality to deepen our participation in the success of the antibodies we discover. We are excited to partner with Tachyon to pursue a previously unexplored mechanism and develop therapies that we anticipate will impact cancer treatment,” Hansen said.

Under the terms of the agreement, AbCellera is eligible to receive milestone payments and royalties on products derived from its antibody discovery platform. Additionally, AbCellera has the option to invest in preclinical and clinical development in exchange for an increased share of product sales.

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