PeptiDream and Kleo Pharmaceuticals inked a collaboration agreement to co-develop immuno-oncology candidates for multiple indications. Tokyo-based PeptiDream will use its Peptide Discovery Platform System (PDPS) technology to identify macrocyclic/conserved peptides against targets selected by Kleo and to optimize peptides into binders that Kleo will engineer into antibody recruiting molecule (ARM) and synthetic antibody mimic (SyAM) candidates.

As part of the deal, New Haven, CT-based Kleo will receive an up-front payment and also will retain the right to develop and commercialize all products resulting from the collaboration. PeptiDream will receive a tiered proportion of proceeds, dependent upon its level of development funding. Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed.

“We think combining PeptiDream's PDPS technology with Kleo's ARM and SyAM platform represents a truly potent partnership that will generate many more effective targeted treatments for patients,” commented Douglas Manion, M.D, Kleo’s CEO. “We are looking forward to advancing this new paradigm of small molecule immunotherapies into the clinic.”

“PeptiDream has long been on the forefront of transforming PDPS-identified peptides into peptide therapeutics, small-molecule drugs, and peptide–drug conjugates,” added Keiichi Kubota, CEO of PeptiDream. “We greatly look forward to working with innovative leaders like Kleo to leverage our capabilities to develop the next generation of first-in-class and best-in-class immunotherapies.”

Kleo Pharmaceuticals was established in 2015 to develop technology originating in the laboratory of Yale University’s David Spiegel, M.D., Ph.D. The firm closed a Series A round of investment in September 2016, which was led by Biohaven Pharmaceutical Holding.

Kleo is developing a pipeline of ARMs and SyAMs that work in a similar way to antibody therapeutics, by directing the immune system to target disease-causing cells. With potential applications against cancer and infectious diseases, ARMs and SyAMs are nonimmunogenic and have far lower molecular weights than therapeutic antibodies, Kleo maintains. These features make ARM and SyAM candidates potentially safer and more easily administered than protein drugs. ARMs and SyAMs are also relatively easy to store and manufacture than traditional biologics.

ARMs are bifunctional molecules composed of two active heads attached by a linker. One head, the antibody-binding terminus (ABT) attaches to the patient’s own antibodies. The second, target-binding terminus (TBT) head attaches to antigens on the target cell. SyAMs are similarly bifunctional molecules comprising two active heads with a linker in between. One of the SyAM heads is an immune-binding terminus (IBT) that attaches to immune system cells. The other TBT attaches to target cell antigens.

PeptiDream is leveraging its hit-finding PDPS library platform for the discovery and development of constrained peptides, small molecules, and peptide–drug conjugate therapeutics. Last month, the firm inked a strategic collaboration with Heptares to develop G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR)-targeting therapeutics against inflammatory diseases. Also in June, PeptideDream and Modulus Discovery signed a strategic drug discovery collaboration covering potentially multiple programs. Just prior to announcement of the deal with Modulus, PeptiDream reported nonexclusively licensing the PDPS platform to Shionogi for applications excluding peptide–drug conjugates. And in addition, last month, PeptiDream, Shionogi, and Sekisui Chemical announced plans to establish a new company focused on the development and manufacture of peptide pharmaceuticals.

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