Dana Farber and Harbour BioMed Team Up to Develop Novel Cancer Biotherapies

Farber_Suzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe via GI

Suzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Harbour BioMed and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have struck a research collaboration deal to co-develop various novel cancer biotherapies, including CAR-T cell products and bispecific antibodies.

Bispecific antibodies engage two targets and may extend the potential of monoclonal antibody therapies, while CAR-T cell therapies are a relatively new type of immunotherapy featuring altered T cells that ultimately target cancer cells. Scientists and researchers from Harbour BioMed and Dana-Farber will jointly work to develop these oncologic drugs under the collaboration.

The terms of the strategic collaboration see Harbour BioMed using its transgenic Harbour Mice® platform in combination with Dana-Farber scientists’ expertise on basic oncology research and CAR-T cell development. The Harbour Mice antibody technology platform from Harbour BioMed will be used to produce human therapeutic antibody products. Additionally, the platform may be used to generate other next-generation biologics, including fully human bi- and multi-specifics, CAR-Ts or VH domain-derived products.

"The complementary technology and expertise between Harbour and DFCI will dramatically shorten the interval from novel discovery to developing optimized antibody and cellular therapies for clinical translation," said Dr. Eric Smith, Laboratory Principal Investigator & Director of Translational Research for Immune Effector Cell Therapies at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, in a statement.

The collab comes a month after Dana Farber announced a multi-year $2 billion fundraising campaign to accelerate its research into cancer. 

Dana Farber previously collaborated with Deerfield Management back in February to advance novel therapeutics and diagnostic tools for cancer. The partnership saw Deerfield agreeing to invest up to $130 million over the next ten years to fuel this development project. The first $80 million was invested in developing the Center for Protein Degradation at Dana-Farber. 

Overall, the funding was also granted to create a translational research partnership to launch Riverway Discoveries. The reported goal of Riverway is to advance promising oncology candidates through preclinical development and into the market quickly and safely.

“Translational funding in biomedical research, when the promise of success is not obvious or guaranteed, can often be the engine that ensures innovative research moves forward, paving the way for important discoveries and new and better therapies,” according to Dana-Farber’s President and CEO, Laurie H. Glimcher, M.D., in a statement. “I am hopeful that this investment by Deerfield at Dana-Farber now will eventually help improve the lives of people with cancer everywhere.”

At the time, Deerfield managing partner, James Flynn, said the collab may be the “most powerful” and best way to support and advance the healthcare ecosystem. “Dana Farber is the perfect example of an institution with all the fundamentals where a flywheel of innovation can be supported with translational funding,” he said.

Prior to the funding collab with Dana Farber, Deerfield also invested $50 million to launch Cambridge, Mass-based Nuvalent, a cancer startup. The Series A financing was granted to fuel the company’s research and development of innovative small molecule kinase inhibitors for non-small cell lung cancer. At the time, this financing was the biggest from Deerfield since it closed in on an $840 million Deerfield Healthcare Innovations Fund II designed to go toward the life sciences industry.

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