Rakuten Medical closes deal with Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany to receive cetuximab for production of Rakuten Medical's ASP-1929 antibody-drug conjugate

 

SAN MATEO, Calif., July 7, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Rakuten Medical Inc. (Rakuten Medical) announced they have entered a multi-year deal with Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany under which Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany will provide cetuximab to Rakuten Medical for its ASP-1929 program. Rakuten Medical uses cetuximab in an intermediate form as the antibody component in its product candidate ASP-1929, an investigational antibody-dye conjugate being studied for the treatment of recurrent, locoregional head and neck cancers. Under this agreement, Rakuten Medical may use cetuximab to produce ASP-1929 for clinical trials and commercial sales.

Earlier this year at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Rakuten Medical and Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany memorialized their intent to join forces to explore ways to help patients conquer cancer. "Rakuten Medical is excited to partner with Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, a leading science and technology company," said Hiroshi Mikitani, Chairman and CEO of Rakuten Medical. "Rakuten Medical is committed to partnering with world class companies such as Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany in order to carry forward its mission to conquer cancer."

Rakuten Medical's ASP-1929 combines cetuximab and a light activatable dye, IRDye® 700DX. Cetuximab, a monoclonal antibody, targets and binds specifically to the epidermal growth factor receptors (EGFR), which are overexpressed in several cancers. After binding to EGFR-expressing cancer cells, ASP-1929 is locally activated by non-thermal red light (690 nm) illumination emitted by an investigational laser device system.  Pre-clinical data indicate that illumination of ASP-1929 induces a biophysical process that compromises cell membrane integrity, leading to cancer cell death and tumor necrosis.

About Rakuten Medical, Inc.

Rakuten Medical, Inc. is a global biotechnology company developing precision, cell-targeting investigational therapies on its IlluminoxTM platform, which, in pre-clinical studies have shown to lead to rapid and selective cell killing and tumor necrosis. Illuminox therapies have not yet been approved as safe or effective by any regulatory authority. Rakuten Medical is committed to its mission to conquer cancer and aims to realize a society where cancer patients can lead fulfilling lives. Headquartered in the United States, Rakuten Medical has 6 locations in 5 countries, including Japan, the Netherlands, Germany and Taiwan. For more information, visit www.rakuten-med.com.

About ASP-1929

Since 2013, Rakuten Medical, Inc. has been using an exclusively licensed antibody complex to develop new cancer therapies based on its IlluminoxTM technology platform. Rakuten Medical's first pipeline drug developed on Illuminox is ASP-1929, an antibody-drug conjugate comprised of the antibody cetuximab and IRDye® 700DX, a light activatable dye. ASP-1929 binds to epidermal growth factor receptors (EGFR), a cancer antigen expressed in multiple types of solid tumors, including head and neck cancer, esophageal cancer, lung cancer, colon cancer, and pancreatic cancer. After binding to cancer cells, ASP-1929 is locally activated by non-thermal red light (690 nm) illumination emitted by an investigational laser device system.  Pre-clinical data indicate that Illuminox technology induces a biophysical process that compromises cell membrane integrity, leading to cancer cell death and tumor necrosis. ASP-1929, has achieved Fast Track designation from the FDA and Sakigake Designation from the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare and is currently under investigation in a global phase 3 clinical trial for recurrent head and neck cancer. Rakuten Medical, Inc. is moving forward with product development by conducting clinical trials of monotherapy and combination therapy with other drugs. ASP-1929 has not yet been approved by any regulatory authority. 

About Illuminox

The Illuminox platform is an investigational platform based on a cancer therapy called photoimmunotherapy, which was developed by Dr. Hisataka Kobayashi and team from the National Cancer Institute in the United States. Rakuten Medical is developing the Illuminox platform as a technology consisting of a drug, device and other related components. The drug component of the platform consists of a targeting moiety conjugated with one or more dyes leading to selective cell surface binding.  The device component consists of a light source that locally illuminates the targeted cells with non-thermal light to transiently activate the drug.  Pre-clinical data have shown that this activation elicits rapid and selective necrosis of targeted cells through a biophysical process that compromises the membrane integrity of the targeted cells. Therapies developed on Illuminox may also result in local and systemic innate and adaptive immune activation due to immunogenic cell death of the targeted cells and/or the removal of immunosuppressive elements within the microenvironment. Illuminox therapies have not yet been approved as safe or effective by any regulatory authority.

Forward Looking Statements

This press release contains forward looking statements that correspond to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements include various risks, uncertainties, and assumptions that may cause Rakuten Medical's business plans and results to differ from the anticipated results and expectations expressed in these statements. These "forward looking statements" contain information about the status and development of our products, including ASP-1929, and other regulatory and marketing authorization efforts. The approval and commercial success of the product may not be achieved. Forward looking statements relate to the potential benefits, efficacy, and safety of ASP-1929, and the status of regulatory filings. Such statements may include words such as "expect," "believe," "hope," "estimate," "looks as though," "anticipate," "intend," "may," "suggest," "plan," "strategy," "will," and "do", and are based on our current beliefs. In addition, this press release uses terms such as "important," "notable," and "abnormal" to express opinions about clinical trial data. Ongoing clinical trial studies include various risks and uncertainties, in particular, problems that arise during the manufacturing stage of ASP-1929, the occurrence of adverse safety events, situations in failure to demonstrate therapeutic benefits, and other various risks and uncertainties, both reasonable and unreasonable. For this reason, actual results, including regulatory approvals and uncertainties in the commercialization process of ASP-1929, may differ from published information. Except to the extent required by applicable law, we undertake no obligation to publicly update this or any other forward-looking statement, whether because of new information, future developments or events, changes in assumptions, changes in the factors affecting forward-looking statements. If one or more forward-looking statement(s) is updated, no inference should be drawn that additional updates will be made to those or other forward-looking statements.

For corporate partnering, please contact partnerships@rakuten-med.com

 

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SOURCE Rakuten Medical, Inc.

 

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