In an initiative to expand its portfolio in cancer immunotherapy, Agenus is acquiring European-based biopharmaceutical company 4-Antibody. As part of the agreement, the company has agreed to acquire all of the outstanding stock of 4-Antibody for an initial payment of $10 million in shares of Agenus common stock, plus additional contingent payments, payable in cash or Agenus common stock, that may exceed $40 million based on the combined company achieving certain milestones.

4-Antibody has a technology platform for the discovery and optimization of fully human antibodies against an array of molecular targets of interest. These targets include checkpoint molecules that regulate immune response to cancers and other diseases.

Through a strategic collaboration with the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC), the company is pursuing multiple preclinical immune checkpoint antibody programs targeting numerous checkpoint molecules, including GITR and OX40, as well as four additional undisclosed checkpoint programs.

Agenus intends to maintain 4-Antibody’s current operations in Basel, Switzerland and Jena, Germany, and to retain the 4-Antibody management team as part of the combined company.

According to 4-Antobody, checkpoint-targeting antibodies have produced promising clinical results in various cancers, such as melanoma, renal cell carcinoma, and non-small-cell lung cancer. Checkpoint antibodies work by accelerating the ability of immune cells to target cancer or other diseases, the company said. Monoclonal antibodies that bind to checkpoint molecules unlock the braking mechanism that gets in the way of immune cells attacking cancer cells.

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