AbbVie Forms Four Oncology, Immunology Pacts

AbbVie has formed four new collaborations and investments with healthcare innovators to advance early-stage research in key therapeutic areas such as oncology and immunology.

One of the oncology collaborations formed is with Pure MHC, a privately held biotechnology company based in Austin, Texas, which includes a research and license agreement to discover and validate peptide targets for use with T-cell receptor therapeutics in several types of cancers. T-cells play a key role in regulating immune responses to tumors. Pure MHC has developed technology to identify tumor-associated peptides based on innovation licensed from the University of Oklahoma. The collaboration between AbbVie and Pure MHC will seek to identify a library of peptide targets for further research across multiple tumor.

A second oncology collaboration that AbbVie has entered involves an exclusive license with Dong-A-ST, a specialty healthcare company headquartered in Seoul, South Korea, for MerTK inhibitors in preclinical development for use in conjunction with immuno-oncology therapies. MerTK is a protein that is believed to contribute to the promotion of an immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment and inhibition of this protein may promote an inflammatory response against tumors, according to AbbVie. The collaboration will explore the combination of MerTK inhibitors in conjunction with AbbVie’s portfolio of anti-cancer agents across multiple types of solid tumors.

AbbVie’s third collaboration is in immunology, for which it has entered a partnership with Zebra Biologics, a pre-clinical stage biopharmaceutical company headquartered Concord, Massachusetts. This collaboration aims to discover agonist antibody therapeutics for inflammatory diseases. Zebra will utilize its patented function-based antibody discovery platform to generate antibodies that activate biological pathways associated with targets designated by AbbVie. Zebra and AbbVie will collaborate on the identification and pre-clinical validation of emerging candidates. The targets were not disclosed. Zebra will lead the discovery of candidate agonist antibodies for designated targets and will collaborate with AbbVie in preclinical validation of select clinical candidates. Upon advancement of clinical candidates, AbbVie would be responsible for clinical development, manufacturing, regulatory approval, and worldwide commercialization.

AbbVie’s fourth collaboration is in the field of genomics, for which it has partnered with Genomics Medicine Ireland (GMI), a life sciences startup company headquartered in Dublin to conduct population genomics research in Ireland. The alliance will sequence the genomes of 45,000 volunteers across Ireland. The data to be included will originate from people with several types of immune-mediated diseases, neurological disorders, and cancer as well as people unaffected by these diseases. By incorporating the genotypic and phenotypic data across a wide sample population, the partnership aims to better understand human biology and disease etiology to discover new therapeutic targets and identify biomarkers. AbbVie will use the research to select targets for drug developmen, as well as for potential development of companion diagnostics for select conditions. GMI is backed by investors ARCH Venture Partners, Polaris Partners, GV (formerly Google Ventures), and the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund.

Source: AbbVie

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