Immune Pharmaceuticals will use STC Biologics’ antibodies in a strategic partnership intended to speed up the development of Immune’s antibody nanoparticle conjugates or NanomAbs, designed to allow targeted delivery of chemotherapeutics, the companies said today. The value of the collaboration was not disclosed.

The companies said their partnership will draw upon research capabilities of STC in Cambridge, MA, and of Immune in Jerusalem. Development will initially focus on HER2-targeted paclitaxel nanoparticles using an anti-HER2 monoclonal antibody developed by STC, as well as H-Ferritin targeted paclitaxel nanoparticles using an anti-H Ferritin monoclonal antibody developed by Immune.

Immune licenses the NanomAb technology from Yissum, the technology transfer company of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. NanomAb was originally developed by Professor Benita, former director of the Hebrew University’s Institute for Drug Research.

Licensing and joint-development agreements between STC and Immune are expected to be finalized later in the second quarter, the companies said.

“We believe that our portfolio of antibodies will expand the targeting capabilities of the NanomAbs,” Magdalena Leszczyniecka, Ph.D., CEO of STC, said in a statement.

Added Immune CEO Daniel Teper, PharmD: “We believe that the combined capabilities and assets of Immune and STC Biologics will allow us to accelerate development toward initial clinical trials with NanomAbs and expand our portfolio of NanomAb drug candidates.”

That portfolio is headed by Immune’s lead product candidate bertilimumab, now in clinical development for moderate to severe ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease as well as bullous pemphigoid, an orphan auto-immune dermatological condition.

Immune has licensed worldwide rights for systemic indications of bertilimumab from iCo Therapeutics under a 2011 license agreement that could net iCo $32 million in milestone payments plus royalties, on top of the $500,000 cash, 600,000 shares and 200,000 warrants that Immune shelled out upfront. Under that license deal, which followed an option agreement signed in December 2010, iCo retained rights to all ophthalmic indications.

iCo originally licensed the exclusive world-wide rights to bertilimumab (which over time has also been called iCo-008 or CAT-213) in 2006 from MedImmune before its acquisition by AstraZeneca. MedImmune predecessor Cambridge Antibody Technology initially developed bertilimumab for allergic diseases.

Immune and STC will jointly present preclinical proof of concept data today in a poster presentation at PEGS – The Essential Protein Engineering Summit this week.

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