One month after inking a deal with Genmab to develop a new antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) product combining Genmab’s HuMax-TAC antibody and ADC Therapeutics’ pyrrolobenzodiazepine (PBD)-based warhead and linker technology, the warheads are flying again. ADC Therapeutics is now teaming up with New York’s BZL Biologics in an exclusive licensing and collaboration agreement for an antibody against PSMA-positive prostate cancers. ADC Therapeutics plans to initiate pre-IND development of a PSMA-specific ADC immediately. Financial terms were not disclosed.

ADC Therapeutics’ platform combines monoclonal antibodies specific to particular types of tumor cells, in this case PSMA, with a class of PBD-based warheads. ADC Therapeutics says that, as its PBD-based chemistries do not distort the structure of the DNA, it gives the prospect of target-selective cancer therapies with fewer side effects and the potential to pre-empt resistance issues.

PSMA is a cell-surface antigen on prostate cancer cells, and PSMA levels correlate directly with an aggressive, metastasizing phenotype. The firms claim that the characteristics of PSMA—its cancer specificity, presence in 95% of prostate cancers, high level of expression, and rapid internalization—make it an ideal ADC target.

“We have direct experience with virtually every antibody-drug conjugate platform currently available,” said Neil H. Bander, M.D., director of urological oncology research at Weill Cornell Medical College, which is where the anti-PSMA antibody was licensed. “None have produced the level of efficacy we have seen with ADC Therapeutics’ PBD warheads—in vivo efficacy data from their PSMA-targeted ADC drug candidate are truly exciting, and we are excited to see this potentially breakthrough therapy translated into a clinic program as soon as possible.”

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