Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma is paying Swiss firm Covagen €4 million (about $5.2 million) up front as part of a research collaboration and license agreement focused on exploiting Covagen’s Fynomer-antibody (FynomAb) platform to generate bispecific proteins against two pairs of targets selected by Mitsubishi Tanabe and its U.S.-based Tanabe Research Laboratories subsidiary. Fynomers are small binding proteins that Covagen says can be engineered to bind to any antigen of interest, and fused to therapeutic proteins such as antibodies to create bispecific FynomAbs.

Under terms of the deal Mitsubishi will fund the research and carry out all subsequent development, manufacturing, and global commercialization activities. Covagen could receive up to another €108.25 million (roughly $140.2 million) in milestones relating to FynomAbs developed against the first pair of targets, plus tiered royalties on future sales. Similar financial terms will stand if TRL and Mitsubishi Tanabe elect to continue the collaboration for the second pair of targets.

“This collaboration agreement is an important milestone for Covagen as we develop our unique Fynomer technology and advance bispecific therapeutic FynomAbs in collaboration and in our own therapeutic pipeline,” notes Julian Bertschinger, Ph.D., Covagen CEO. “Bispecific therapeutic compounds have enormous potential in the treatment of many types of diseases, and this collaboration is an important validation of our pioneering work in this field.”

Fynomers are derived from the fully human protein scaffold Fyn SH3, and can be utilized to generate a range of multi-targeting therapeutics, Covagen claims. These include homodimeric, homotrimeric, and bispecific fusion proteins, as well as bivalent, tetravalent, and bispecific fusion proteins, and bispecific therapeutic proteins based on clinically validated antibodies.

Covagen’s in-house pipeline is headed by a dual TNF/IL-17A inhibitor for the potential treatment of inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and psoriatic arthritis. The drug comprises an interleukin 17A (IL-17A)-neutralizing Fynomer fused to a fully human anti-TNF antibody.

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