Asher Biotherapeutics, which is developing targeted immunotherapies for cancer, autoimmune, and infectious diseases, and Lonza, a CDMO, signed a manufacturing agreement for AB359, a cis-targeted IL-2 fusion protein, which selectively activates the IL-2 pathway in CD8+ T cells.

Unlike conventional immunotherapies that act on multiple cell types, cis-targeted immunotherapies engage two receptors on the same immune cell: an immunomodulatory receptor and a specific target that directs the therapy to the desired immune cell type. The result, according to an Asher official, is reduced side effects and optimized activity through a new level of selectivity. AB359 is intended to broaden Asher Bio’s application of cis-targeted immunotherapies to chronic infectious diseases.

Lonza will provide drug substance manufacturing for AB359 for preclinical and clinical testing. Work on this program began in March 2022 at Lonza’s Slough (U.K.) site. Bi- and multi-specific molecules are a growing part of Lonza’s portfolio.

Julie Trulson, PhD, head of CMC, Asher Bio, said, “Lonza’s determination in implementing steady improvements, and offering its customers a more integrated experience, will be essential as we advance our cis-targeted immunotherapies closer to patients.”

“This collaboration marks our commitment and flexibility in tailoring our offering to the specific needs of emerging biotechs,” added Jeetendra Vaghjiani, PhD, executive director, clinical development, and strategic marketing, Lonza. Our teams have built the capabilities and experience, including more complex protein formats, to help take Asher Bio’s AB359 from development into the clinic.”

Presentations at AACR

Asher Bio plans to present new data for multiple research programs across its portfolio of cis-targeted immunotherapies at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting, being held in New Orleans, beginning today and ending next Wednesday, April 13.

The presentations are intended to provide additional data supporting the potential of AB248, Asher Bio’s CD8-targeted IL-2 immunotherapy, and to demonstrate the cis-targeting platform’s ability to rapidly generate highly selective molecules that target multiple immunomodulators to a diverse set of immune cell types.

Asher Bio expects to file an investigational new drug application for AB248, its CD8-targeted IL-2 immunotherapy, in the third quarter of 2022 and for AB821, its CD8-targeted IL-21 immunotherapy, in the second half of 2023.


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