Affimed and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center inked an exclusive, strategic clinical development and commercialization collaboration to evaluate and develop anticancer products that combine Affimed’s bispecific TandAb® antibodies with MD Anderson’s umbilical cord blood-derived natural killer (NK) cells. MD Anderson will initially carry out preclinical research on a combination of its NK cells with Affimed’s AFM13, a CD30- and CD16A-targeting TandAb. The aim is to progress the combination product into Phase I studies. Affimed will fund R&D expenses and holds an option to exclusively license worldwide development and commercialization rights to any products developed under the collaboration. The deal also includes provision for expanding the partnership.

Cancer immunotherapeutics firm Affimed’s lead product AFM13 is designed to simultaneously target CD16A on NK cells and CD30 on tumor cells and is currently in clinical development for the treatment of CD30-positive cancers, including Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) and T-cell lymphoma (TCL). A Phase IIa trial with AFM13 monotherapy in HL patients is ongoing, with the support of $4.4 million co-funding from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. A Phase I HL study evaluating AFM13 in combination with Merck & Co.'s anti-programmed cell death protein 1 (PD1) therapy Keytruda® (pembrolizumab) is being carried out under a clinical research collaboration signed between Merck & Co. and Affimed in January 2016.

Affimed is developing bispecific NK-cell engaging and T-cell engaging TandAbs and trispecific antibodies for treating a range of cancers. The Germany-based firm’s early clinical-stage pipeline also includes AFM11, a CD19- and CD3-targeting T-cell engager TandAb, which is in Phase I trials for treating non-Hodgkin lymphoma and acute lymphocytic leukemia.

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