Deal follows days after Swedish firm axes Phase II trial with lead multiple myeloma candidate

Pfizer is making a $6 million equity investment in the Swedish antibody immunotherapeutics firm BioInvent International as part of a cancer immunotherapy research collaboration and license agreement focused on developing antibodies targeting tumor-associated myeloid cells. Pfizer is paying a 30% premium for the newly issued BioInvent shares, which will give it an approximately 7.2% stake in the company. Pfizer will also make additional early payments to BioInvent of approximately $10 million, including upfront fees and research funding. BioInvent could feasibly earn more than $0.5 billion in development milestones if five antibodies are developed through to commercialization. 

The deal with Prizer comes just a week after BioInvent confirmed that it was axing a Phase II study with its own lead multiple myeloma candidate, BI-505, a fully human intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1)-targeting antibody. The decision to terminate the trial followed notification by the FDA in September that it was putting the trial on hold due an adverse cardiopulmonary event.

The Pfizer collaboration will exploit BioInvent’s F.I.R.S.T.™ screening tool to identify novel oncology targets and antibodies that either reverse the immunosuppressive activities of tumor-associated myeloid cells or reduce the number of tumor-associated myeloid cells in the tumor. BioInvent claims its drug discovery technology allows the simultaneous identification of disease-associated targets and the antibodies that bind to them, without detailed knowledge of the target protein.

“We look forward to collaborating with BioInvent, as we believe that modulating the activity of tumour-associated myeloid cells presents an opportunity to help us expand our portfolio in oncology and ultimately deliver on our mission to bring innovative new medicines to cancer patients,” said Robert Abraham, Ph.D., svp and head of Pfizer’s Oncology R&D Group.

BioInvent’s clinical pipeline also includes a fully human CD32b-targeting antibody, BI-1206, which is in Phase I/II development, in partnership with major U.K. cancer charities, for the treatment of non-Hodgkin lymphoma and chronic lymphocytic leukemia. A U.S.-based, open Phase I/II trial is evaluating TB-403, a monoclonal antibody targeting placental growth factor (PIGF), as a potential treatment for medulloblastoma, neuroblastoma, Ewing’s sarcoma, and alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma. The TB-403 development program is being carried out in partnership with the ThromboGenics subsidiary Oncurious and the Neuroblastoma and Medulloblastoma Translational Research Consortium.

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