Abzena Signs Linker Chemistry Pact for ADCs
Abzena, a Cambridge, UK-based contract biologics manufacturer, has signed a licensing agreement and a master services and clinical supply agreement with OBI Pharma, a Taiwanese biopharmaceutical company, for Abzena’s site-specific ThioBridge antibody drug conjugate (ADC) linker technology to develop OBI’s proprietary ADC, OBI-999 and a series of further ADCs as potential treatments for cancer.
ThioBridge links antibodies and other proteins to drugs. The technology platform is designed to maintain the stability of the antibody and a consistent drug-to-antibody ratio, which provides a more uniform product, according to Abzena.
OBI-999 targets cancer cells overexpressing the cancer antigen, Globo H, according to Abzena. The Globo series comprises a group of cancer-associated carbohydrate antigens, including Globo H, SSEA3, and SSEA4 that are overexpressed in more than 14 types of cancers, including breast, lung, gastric, and colorectal cancer, according to the company. By releasing the cytotoxic payload to the targeted cancer cells, the aim is to trigger cancer apoptosis while minimizing the drug’s toxicities to normal cells.
Concurrent with the signing of the license agreement, Abzena and OBI have entered into a master services and clinical supply agreement for Abzena to provide OBI with further manufacturing process development and GMP manufacture of OBI-999 and further ADCs.
Under this agreement, OBI will receive a worldwide exclusive license to use the ThioBridge technology to research, develop, and commercialize ADCs targeting the Globo series. Abzena will receive a small initial up-front payment from OBI and has the potential, subject to successful development, to receive up to £128 million ($167 million), in aggregate, which may become payable upon achievement of certain development, regulatory, and commercialization milestones. In addition, Abzena will receive royalties on sales of any approved ADC products that incorporate the ThioBridge technology.