Japan’s Ono Pharmaceuticals negotiated a research and option agreement with Numab Therapeutics through which the firms will harness the latter’s antibody discovery and engineering platform to identify a lead multispecific antibody candidate for immuno-oncology applications. Ono retains an option to acquire IP and exclusive rights to develop and commercialize the selected lead compound. Swiss firm Numab will receive research funding and up to CHF 258 million (approximately $262 million) in up-front and milestone payments, plus tiered royalties on future product sales. The drug discovery collaboration is Ono's second announced within the last 10 days. Earlier this month the firm reported a collaboration agreement with X-Chem to discover small molecules targeting multiple oncology targets. 

Commenting on the agreement with Numab, Hiromu Habashita, Ph.D., corporate officer and executive director of Discovery & Research of Ono, said: “We highly value the capabilities of Numab’s multispecific antibody platform. It is robust and optimized to reproducibly yield product candidates with outstanding binding properties. We believe it is ideally suited to fuel our immuno-oncology drug discovery, and consequently a multispecific antibody to be generated through this collaboration will provide hope to sufferers of cancer.”

Founded in 2011, Numab is exploiting its antibody discovery and engineering platform to develop an in-house and partnered pipeline of multispecific biotherapeutics against cancer and autoimmune and metabolic disorders. The platform generates stable antibody Fv fragments as building blocks for mono- or multispecific antibody fragment-based therapeutics. Lead preclinical-stage autoimmune disease therapeutics candidate ND007 (anti-IL23RxCD3) is a bispecific antibody fragment designed to bind to both the interleukin-23 receptor (IL-23R) and CD3 and trigger the destruction of IL-23R-expressing autoreactive pathogenic T cells.  Numab’s preclinical-stage anti-tumor necrosis factor (TNF) antibody fragment ND009 is in development against inflammatory bowel disease and is licensed to Tillotts Pharma. Numab and Tillotts inked their development and licensing agreement focused on antibody-based inflammatory bowel disease therapeutics targeting TNF-α in 2015.

Numab is separately working with Intarcia Therapeutics to develop ND016, a multispecific antibody fragment-based candidate for treating severe autoimmune disorders, and ND017, an antibody-fragment-based molecule for treating metabolic disorders. Both programs aim to develop molecules that can be used with Intarcia’s innovative and proprietary technology, the Medici Drug Delivery System™.

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