Igenica Biotherapeutics said today it has launched an oncology research agreement with MedImmune to assess the potential of antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) targeting surface antigen in leukemia (SAIL), a cell surface protein highly expressed in a variety of blood cancers and several solid tumors.

The value of the collaboration was not disclosed.

MedImmune, the global biologics R&D arm of AstraZeneca, agreed to provide its antitumor payload to Igenica, which agreed to contribute its anti-SAIL antibodies, including IGN786, and its SNAP ADC drug linker.

IGN786 is a humanized monoclonal antibody that binds to SAIL. According to Ingenica, preclinical data have supported the selective targeting of tumors expressing SAIL with ADCs.

Igenica will partner with MedImmune to jointly investigate the resulting novel ADCs in preclinical studies.

“Given the expression profile of this target, IGN786 has the potential to be an exquisitely specific targeted therapy for multiple cancer indications with high unmet medical need, including follicular lymphoma, diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), acute myeloid leukemia (AML), chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), multiple myeloma, and pancreatic cancer,” Igenica states on its website.

Under the collaboration, MedImmune will receive an option for an exclusive worldwide license to anti-SAIL antibodies and ADCs resulting from the collaboration. Igenica will receive an exclusive option fee and—if MedImmune exercises its option—is also eligible to receive an upfront license fee, clinical, regulatory, and commercialization milestones, and royalties on net sales.

MedImmune agreed to fund all development and commercialization costs under a license agreement.

“This agreement provides a strong opportunity to realize the potential value of IGN786 and complements our strategy focused on targeting drugs to block the immunosuppressive activities of immune cells in the tumor microenvironment to reinvigorate or activate de novo antitumor responses,” Ingenica CBO John Celebi said in a statement.

Added Ronald Herbst, vp, oncology research & development for MedImmune: “Developing next generation antibody-drug conjugates is a key strategic area for us, and we are committed to advancing our pipeline in this area both externally and internally.”

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