Amgen Partners in BiTE Antibody Constructs
Amgen and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center have formed a research collaborative agreement focusing on Amgen’s bispecific T cell engager (BiTE) antibody constructs, an immunotherapy that serves as a “bridge” between T cells and cancer cells.
The research agreement will identify targets for this therapy in myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a bone marrow disorder in which the body does not produce sufficient healthy blood cells. MDS affects primarily older adults over age 60 and can cause severe anemia, potentially leading to development of acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), a blood cell cancer.
The collaboration’s innovative approach will draw on the expertise of MD Anderson’s Moon Shots Program, which aims to accelerate the conversion of scientific discoveries into clinical advances and significantly reduce cancer deaths. Garcia-Manero leads the MDS/AML Moon Shots Program. The agreement provides for joint development of new agents under pre-determined terms. Amgen retains all commercial rights while MD Anderson is eligible to receive milestones and royalties upon successful achievement of key objectives.
BiTE antibody constructs are recombinant proteins consisting of two separate antibodies held together by a flexible peptide linker or bands of amino acids. The antibodies are designed to function as a link between T cells and cancer cells. One antibody or protein domain binds to the cancer cell’s surface, while the other binds to the CD3 on the T cell, resulting in the malignant cell’s death. It is thought that BiTE antibody constructs may be engineered to target a range of tumors.