ImmunGene claims this platform efficiently targets cancer cells and reduces cytokine toxicity.

Cephalon Australia negotiated an agreement with targeted antibody therapeutics firm ImmunGene that will allow it to apply the latter’s antibody-interferon targeting technology to up to six cancer targets. The four-year deal gives Cephalon the right to exclusively license each resulting candidate it decides to move into clinical development. The firm will also be responsible for all product development, manufacturing, and commercialization. ImmunGene will receive an up-front fee for the four-year option, along with future license fees, research payments, and clinical/regulatory milestones, plus royalties on worldwide net sales of any resulting products.

“This collaboration is a validation of ImmunGene’s novel antibody function enhancement technology that adds the power of cytokines to antibodies while reducing the systemic toxicity of the cytokines,” remarks Sanjay D. Khare, sImmunGene CEO.

ImmunGene is developing cell-targeting fusion antibodies known as CmAbs that consist of monoclonal antibodies fused to immune effector molecules such as cytokines, chemokines, and costimulatory molecules. The resulting antibody-fusion proteins are designed to be stable in the bloodstream and efficiently target cancer cells. ImmunGene claims the CmAb platform requires no chemical conjugation, and resulting CmAb candidates can be manufactured in commercial mAb producing cell lines. Importantly, the fusion of cytokine/chemokines to antibodies does not generate any steric hindrance with respect to Fc and antigen binding, and retains intact ADCC and CDC functions, the firm stresses.

ImmunGene’s in-house pipeline is headed by lead preclinical candidates IGN002 and IGN001. IGN002 comprises an anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody attached to IFN through a stable peptide linker system. In development for the potential treatment of non-Hodgkin lymphoma and other B cell driven hematologic malignancies, IGN002 has already shown efficacy in rituximab-resistant tumor models, the firm claims.

IGN001 comprises an anti-Her2 mAb attached to IFN using the stable peptide linker system. ImmunGene states that it is in the early stages of generating preclinical data with the candidate.

In November 2010, the firm was awarded a $244,479 grant under the U.S. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 to help fund development of the antibody-cytokine fusion platform.

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