Astellas Partners for Cancer mAb
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Astellas Pharma Inc. and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center today announced the signing of an option agreement to research and develop a new treatment for patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). The collaboration grants Astellas an option to firstly negotiate an exclusive, worldwide license at the end of Phase Ib, with both Phase Ia and Phase Ib studies to be conducted by MD Anderson. The agreement also includes up to $26 million as an option premium and research and development funding.

The collaboration will focus on h8F4 technology, a humanized monoclonal antibody invented by Jeffrey Molldrem, M.D., professor of Stem Cell Transplantation and Cellular Therapy at MD Anderson. The antibody h8F4 targets an HLA-restricted peptide called PR1/HLA-A2, which is expressed in cancer cells and cancer stem cells. Molldrem will lead these research efforts with Carlo Toniatti, M.D., Ph.D., executive director of MD Anderson's Oncology Research for Biologics and Immunotherapy Translation (ORBIT) platform.

While monoclonal antibodies are very common in oncology, generating antibodies against HLA-restricted peptides has proven difficult. To develop viable antibody drugs, MD Anderson created ORBIT for its Moon Shots Program to centralize this type of research.

Source: Astellas Pharma

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