Aduro Biotech will acquire BioNovion Holding, a privately held monoclonal antibody discovery and development company, for more than €29 million ($32.4 million), the companies said yesterday.

The companies said the deal would strengthen and expand Aduro's immunotherapy capabilities to encompass monoclonal antibodies, including preclinical assets that inhibit clinically validated immune checkpoint pathways.

Aduro reasons that such immune checkpoint inhibitors could be used alone or in a combination therapy with the company’s live, attenuated, double-deleted Listeria mononcytogenes (LADD) and cyclic dinucleotide (CDN) platforms to increase immunotherapy potency and durability.

LADD is based on attenuated strains of Listeria that have been engineered by the company to express tumor-associated antigens to induce specific and targeted immune responses. LADD is being developed as a treatment for multiple indications, including pancreatic, lung and prostate cancers, mesothelioma and glioblastoma, with the company citing “compelling” clinical data in advanced cancers.

CDN is designed to activate the intracellular STING receptor, resulting in a potent tumor-specific immune response.

The platforms have the potential to expand into autoimmune and infectious diseases in addition to cancer indications, Aduro and BioNovion said.

“Through this acquisition, we gain access to another immunotherapy platform to enhance our portfolio and potential offerings to patients,” Aduro chairman and CEO Stephen T. Isaacs said in a statement. “Antibodies, particularly immune checkpoint inhibitors, are complementary to our existing immune stimulating technologies with LADD and CDNs.”

Headquartered in Oss, the Netherlands, BioNovion specializes in immune oncology antibody discovery. The company says its B-cell selection platform is designed to enable full and highly effective exploration of immunoglobulin diversity. That platform, in combination with functional screening, has successfully developed leading antibody candidates, according to BioNovion.

BioNovion is also working to validate the therapeutic potential of its immune oncology antibodies in partnership with cancer institutes that include Netherlands Cancer Institute (NKI-AVL) and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

BioNovion’s pipeline includes preclinical monoclonal antibodies designed to inhibit or activate unique immune response pathways linked to the progression of various cancers. The pipeline also includes an APRIL antagonist and five bispecific antibody programs against immune-oncology targets, developed using Genmab's DuoBody Technology.

BioNovion also has developed a proprietary technology designed to quickly produce a broad library of therapeutic antibodies against validated targets, including PD1 and CTLA-4, as well as several undisclosed novel targets.

Aduro agreed to pay BioNovion €14.5 million ($16.2 million) cash and an equal amount in Aduro stock. BioNovion shareholders are also eligible to receive unspecified additional payments tied to completion of regulatory milestones.

Aduro plans to maintain BioNovion's current 24-person operations as a subsidiary of Aduro in Pivot Park, Oss, the companies said.

BioNovion CSO Andrea van Elsas, Ph.D., will hold the same position with the subsidiary, as will COO Hans van Eenennaam, Ph.D.

“We believe the cutting edge immuno-oncology research and development at Aduro is a perfect complement to our efforts at BioNovion,” Dr. van Elsas said. “We envision the blend of our culture and technologies will produce new and powerful combination approaches to treat cancer and other diseases.”

The deal is subject to certain closing conditions, and is expected to conclude in October.

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