Bicycle and Genentech Forge Immuno-Oncology Collaboration Worth up to $1.7 Billion


Shares of U.K.-based Bicycle Therapeutics are climbing this morning after the company announced it entered into a strategic immuno-oncology collaboration with Genentech to discover, develop and commercialize novel Bicycle-based immuno-oncology therapies.

The collaboration has a value of up to $1.7 billion if all milestones are hit. Under terms of the agreement, Bicycle will receive an upfront payment of $30 million to focus its proprietary bicyclic peptides platform on a wide range of immuno-oncology targets. The U.K. company’s proprietary discovery platform allows for rapid screening of novel targets to identify Bicycles and the ability to readily conjugate these together to create novel molecules that may overcome the potential limitations of other modalities. Bicycles are fully synthetic short peptides constrained with small molecule scaffolds to form two loops that stabilize their structural geometry. This constraint facilitates target binding with high affinity and selectivity, which makes Bicycles attractive candidates for drug development, the company said.

Genentech, a Roche company, brings to the collaboration its knowledge of immuno-oncology drug discovery and emerging target biology, as well as its development and commercialization expertise, Bicycle said this morning.

Bicycle Chief Executive Officer Kevin Lee said the collaboration with Genentech recognizes the potential of his company’s differentiated technology, which allows it to “specifically direct immune cell stimulators and other payloads to tumors in a highly targeted manner.” Additionally, Lee said, the flexibility of the company’s platform will enable the “rapid exploration of structure-activity relationships to fully optimize candidate molecules.”

In its announcement, Bicycle did not identify the cancer targets it will focus on in its collaboration with Genentech. The company only said it will collaborate with Genentech on the discovery and pre-clinical development of novel Bicycle-based immunotherapies against multiple targets.

James Sabry, Roche’s head of Pharma Partnering, said Bicycles represent a novel therapeutic modality that have “shown promise as modulators of several types of tumor-killing immune cells.”

“By leveraging Genentech’s deep understanding of cancer immunology and Bicycle’s technological expertise, we hope to create a new wave of immunotherapy options to expand the population of patients who could potentially benefit from this powerful treatment paradigm,” Sabry said in a statement.

Bicycle will be responsible for discovery research and early pre-clinical development up to candidate selection and Genentech will be responsible for further development and commercialization upon the selection of candidates. None of Bicycle’s wholly-owned oncology pipeline, including its immuno-oncology candidates, are included in the collaboration, the company noted. Bicycle’s lead product candidate, BT1718, is a Bicycle Toxin Conjugate (BTC) that targets MT1-MMP.  BT1718 is being investigated in an ongoing Phase I/IIa clinical. The company is also investigating BT5528, a BTC targeting tumor antigen EphA2, in patients with advanced solid tumors associated with EphA2 expression.

The collaboration with Genentech follows a partnership with Cancer Research UK to develop BT7401, a multivalent Bicycle CD137 agonist, through a Phase IIa clinical study.

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