AstraZeneca’s MedImmune subsidiary has agreed to exclusively license and develop bispecific and multispecific immuno-oncology antibody products from Compugen’s pipeline, through a collaboration that Compugen said today could generate for it up to $210 million-plus.

Compugen said it will grant MedImmune an exclusive license to develop bispecific and multispecific antibody products derived from a Compugen pipeline program.

The pipeline program was not specified in a Compugen announcement of the collaboration. The company’s website lists an immuno-oncology program in the monoclonal antibody (mAb) discovery phase, a myeloid target candidate, and unspecified “other programs” in immuno-oncology that are in target discovery and validation phases.

Compugen’s website also lists three further advanced but preclinical pipeline programs in immuno-oncology, all of them B7/CD28-like immune checkpoint target candidates discovered by Compugen.

One is CGEN-15001T/ILDR2, which is being developed by Bayer under a 2013 agreement. On February 21, Compugen said Bayer was advancing CGEN-15001T through late preclinical development, with plans to present data supporting the potential of ILDR2 as a promising target for cancer immunotherapy “at an upcoming scientific meeting.”

However, in July 2017, Bayer returned rights to a second Compugen candidate, CGEN15022, after the companies agreed that its potential to serve as a key immune checkpoint for the treatment of cancer immunotherapy “may be limited and does not justify further investment,” Compugen stated at the time.

The other two candidates have been developed by Compugen until now. One is COM701 (CGEN-15029), an anti-PVRIG antibody for which the company is planning to launch a Phase I trial later this year. The company has presented preclinical data on COM701 intended to show its potential for treating multiple solid tumors. The other candidate is COM902 (CGEN-15137), an anti-TIGIT antibody for which Compugen plans to file an IND in 2019.

Possible Combination Therapies

Compugen says its data strongly support combining COM701 with an anti-TIGIT antibody, with the company hypothesizing that a dual blockade TIGIT and PVRIG should result in a more robust T-cell response, and therefore possibly a better antitumor immune response.

MedImmune, the global biologics R&D arm of AstraZeneca, has agreed to pay Compugen $10 million upfront and up to $200 million in payments tied to achieving development, regulatory, and commercial milestones for the first product, as well as tiered royalties on future product sales.

The agreement gives MedImmune the right to create multiple products, as well as sole responsibility for all research, development, and commercial activities. 

“This agreement with Compugen will support our abilities to generate novel immunotherapy targets which, coupled with MedImmune's expertise in antibody engineering, can advance our goal of delivering treatments to meaningfully improve the lives of cancer patients,” Ronald Herbst, Ph.D., MedImmune VP, oncology research & development, said in a statement.

Compugen said it would be eligible for additional milestone and royalty payments if additional products are developed. Compugen will also retain all other rights to its entire pipeline of programs as monotherapies and in combination with other products.

“This licensing deal allows us to monetize specific scientific advances in our programs, while we continue to advance our lead programs into clinical trials,” added Compugen president and CEO Anat Cohen-Dayag, Ph.D. “We are committed to our strategy of selectively collaborating with biopharmaceutical companies for the development of first-in-class products against our diverse, computationally derived portfolio of targets.”

Compugen is headquartered in Holon, Israel, with R&D facilities in both Israel and South San Francisco, CA. MedImmune is headquartered in Gaithersburg, MD.

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