Humanized anti-CD19 mAb XmAb5574 is in early clinical development against CLL.

MorphoSys is paying Xencor $13 million up front as part of a worldwide, exclusive license and collaboration agreement for the latter’s Phase I-stage antibody candidate against B-cell malignancies. The firms will collaborate on continued Phase I development of the humanized anti-CD19 mAb XmAb5574 in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) patients.

Xencor will fund the Phase I program, and XmAb5574 will be renamed MOR208. MorphoSys will take on responsibility for all subsequent clinical development of the antibody. The company will also pay Xencor development, regulatory, and commercialization milestones plus future sales royalties.

MorphoSys points out that XmAb5574 is the first clinical-stage antibody that it has licensed in. “Our interest in XmAb5574 is based on a comprehensive survey of antibodies in late preclinical or early clinical development in the areas of cancer and inflammation,” remarks Arndt Schottelius, M.D., chief development officer. “We are convinced by the sound scientific data Xencor has built around its anti-CD19 cancer program.”

MorphoSys also suggests that CD19 is expressed more broadly and earlier in B-cell development than CD20, which is targeted by the marketed anticancer mAb Rituxan® and so could have applications in a wider range of cancers including non-Hodgkin lymphoma and acute lymphoblastic leukemia as well as CLL.

MorphoSys’ is in parallel developing a fully human CD38-targeting antibody candidate, MOR202, which the firm suggests has potential applications against multiple myeloma and certain leukemias.

Xencor is developing a portfolio of second-generation XmAb® antibody candidates using its XmAb Fc technology. Lead candidate, XmAb2513, targets CD30 and started in clinical development in 2008 for the treatment of relapsed Hodgkin lymphoma and T-cell lymphomas.

Preclinical candidates include the CD40-targeting XmAb5485 for the treatment of B-cell malignancies and autoimmune diseases. XmAb5871 is a CD32b and CD19 dual-targeting antibody in preclinical development for autoimmune diseases.

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