Antibody engineering firm F-Star could earn up to €492 million as part of a research, license, and commercialization deal with Merck Serono centered on the discovery of antibody-derived therapeutics against inflammatory disease targets.
Under terms of the deal, the partners will work together to exploit F-Star’s Modular Antibody Technology for the discovery of monospecific Fc-based targeted biologics (Fcabs) and bispecific IgG-based targeted biologics (mAb² ™) against up to three Merck Serono targets. Merck Serono will have exclusive worldwide development and commercialization rights to resulting products. As well as an initial technology access fee and research-based funding, F-Star will be eligible for license fees, development, regulatory and commercialization milestones, and tiered royalties on product sales.
“We believe that F-Star’s Modular Antibody Technology has the potential to offer important functional advantages over conventional antibodies and will potentially allow us to generate highly differentiated drugs for patients with so far unmet medical needs,” comments Susan Herbert, head of portfolio development at Merck Serono.
“F-star has developed novel technology for the discovery of targeted biologics that offer significant improvements over conventional antibodies,” adds Kevin FitzGerald, Ph.D., CEO. “This agreement builds on F-Star’s strategy to develop and demonstrate the therapeutic potential of our proprietary technology through advancing our own pipeline as well as through a limited number of very selective research collaborations.”
The firm’s Modular Antibody Technology enables the introduction of additional binding sites into antibodies and antibody fragments by engineering the non-CDR loops of constant or variable domains. The approach allows the design of small-sized antibody fragments with full antibody functionality and long half life (Fcab™) or full length antibodies with dual functionality (mAb²). F-Star’s preclinical pipeline includes eight preclinical-stage Fcab and mAb² candidates for applications in oncology, angiogenesis, inflammation, and infection.
In addition to its in-house pipeline and newly announced deal with Merck Serono, F-Star has an ongoing collaboration with Boehringer Ingelheim (BI), focused on the development of Modular Antibody Technology-derived candidates against up to seven BI targets in multiple therapeutic fields.