Licensing agreement of ThioBridge™ signed with Abzena (AIM: ABZA)

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OBI Pharma (‘OBI’, TPEx: 4174) has signed a licensing agreement and a master services and clinical supply agreement with Abzena plc (AIM: ABZA, ‘Abzena’ or the ‘Group), a UK-based life sciences group that provides biopharmaceutical services and technologies. The licensing agreement introduces ThioBridge ™, a novel linker technology for Antibody Drug Conjugate. OBI will utilize Abzena’s novel site-specific linker technology to develop Antibody Drug Conjugate (ADC), a promising class of drugs.

ThioBridge™ is a technology platform that links antibodies and other proteins to drugs. It is unique in its ability to maintain the stability of the antibody and a consistent Drug-to-Antibody Ratio (DAR), which provides a more uniform product.

OBI-999 is an ADC that recognizes the Globo H antigen. By releasing the cytotoxic payload to the targeted cancer cells with high Globo H expression, it triggers cell apoptosis. We have observed encouraging results based on the preclinical data. OBI is actively preparing for Chemistry Manufacturing Control (CMC) and toxicology study design in preparation for Phase I IND application.

In addition to Globo H, other tumor associated carbohydrate antigens include SSEA3 and SSEA4, which are collectively referred to as the Globo series antigen. They have been observed in more than 14 types of cancers, including breast cancer, lung cancer, gastric cancer, and colorectal cancer. The expression of Globo H antigen has not been observed in normal cells. Thus, the release of cytotoxic payload triggers cancer cell apoptosis while minimizing the drug’s toxicities to normal cells. In addition to OBI-999, OBI is also actively planning on the development of other Globo series ADCs.

Concurrent with the signing of the licensing agreement, OBI Abzena and OBI have also entered into a Master Services and Clinical Supply Agreement, covering the scope of manufacturing process development and GMP manufacture of OBI-999 and other ADC products.

Under the terms of this agreement, OBI will pay a small initial up-front payment, to gain a worldwide exclusive license to use the ThioBridge technology to research, develop and commercialize ADCs targeting the Globo series. OBI will pay up a total to £128 million upon achievement of certain development, regulatory and commercialization. In addition, Abzena will also receive royalties on sales of any approved ADC products that incorporate the ThioBridge™ technology.

Amy Huang, General Manager of OBI Pharma, Inc., said that OBI is pleased to collaborate with Abzena for our OBI-999 and other potential pipeline candidates using Abzena’s innovative ThioBridge technology. The collaboration enhances our ADC development program and we hope to develop effective cancer treatments for patients with cancers that express Globo series antigens.

Dr. John Burt, CEO of Abzena, commented that this latest license deal follows on from a successful evaluation program of the ThioBridge™ technology. The overall ADC development program for OBI draws on Abzena’s chemistry research and manufacturing capabilities across the Cambridge (UK) and Bristol (Pennsylvania) facilities, and reaffirms the value of Abzena’s integrated offering.

The expansion of our offering to include GMP manufacturing for ADCs has been enabled by our recent fundraising and this deal is a good example of our ability to continue to support our partners with our broader chemistry research services, process development and manufacturing capabilities.