BioLineRx has bought U.K. anticancer company Agalimmune for $6 million in a 50/50 cash and shares-based deal to acquire its immunotherapy platform and late preclinical-stage compound AGI-134. BioLineRx may also have to make future development and commercial milestone payments.
Established in 2013, Agalimmune is developing anticancer immunotherapeutics that generate systemic, adaptive immune responses to solid tumors. Lead candidate AGI-134 is a synthetic alpha-Gal glycolipid immunotherapy designed to harness the body’s own anti-alpha-Gal antibodies to trigger specific antitumor responses against autologous tumor antigens and generate long-lasting antimetastatic immune responses. Agalimmune claims preclinical studies have demonstrated that AGI-134 offers protection against secondary tumor development and indicate that AGI-134 may have synergistic activity when combined with programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1) immune checkpoint inhibition. First-in-human studies are projected to start during 2018.
Philip Serlin, BioLineRx CEO, stated, “Although a number of current immunotherapies are receiving widespread attention, many solid tumors are still able to evade the immune system’s surveillance. Most immunotherapies work best in highly mutated tumors that are infiltrated with immune cells, known as ‘hot’ tumors. Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of tumors are ‘cold’ tumors, and thus transforming a ‘cold’ tumor into a ‘hot’ tumor is a major objective in cancer treatment. In this regard, Agalimmune’s lead asset AGI-134 harnesses naturally occurring, pre-existing antibodies to elicit a tumor-specific immune response that is unique to the treated individual and provides a universal, small-molecule approach to personalized immunotherapy… . Through this important acquisition, we will also benefit from Agalimmune’s complementary immunology expertise and facilities in the U.K., which support our strategic focus in this area.”
In 2015, Agalimmune negotiated exclusive rights to use KODE Biotech’s Function-Spacer-Lipid (FSL) cell-surface membrane modification technology for use with intratumorally injected cancer therapeutics, and specifically for AGI-134.
Earlier this week BioLineRx reported positive interim results from an open-label Phase II study evaluating its lead oncology and hematology candidate BL-8040. The results showed that a single injection of BL-8040 mobilized sufficient numbers of blood-forming stem and progenitor cells in the peripheral blood of donors for collection and use as allogeneic cell transplants in human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-matched sibling patients with advanced blood cancers.