Oxford-based Enara Bio which develops new targeted cancer immunotherapies, has entered into a strategic collaboration and licensing agreement with Bracknell-based pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim to research and develop novel targeted cancer immunotherapies,
Leveraging Enara Bio’s Dark Antigen™ discovery platform, the aim is to provide potential new therapies for patients with difficult to treat lung and gastrointestinal cancers.
Dark Antigens represent a new class of cancer-associated antigens that derive from the genomic dark matter, or the portion of the human genome that is normally not expressed as protein. Dark Antigen-encoding sequences are usually silenced in healthy cells but are activated and presented on tumor cells. They are associated with specific cancer types and, importantly, are shared across patients.
Jonathon Sedgwick, Ph.D., Senior Vice President and Global Head, Cancer Immunology & Immune Modulation Research at Boehringer Ingelheim said:“We are advancing a unique pipeline of cancer cell-directed agents, immuno-oncology therapies and intelligent combination approaches to help combat cancer. Enara Bio’s unique discovery platform offers a novel and highly differentiated approach that will allow us to look beyond the known proteome to identify and characterize Dark Antigens to support the development of T-Cell Receptor (TCR)-directed immunotherapies and therapeutic vaccines. We believe this is a highly innovative and promising approach to the development of the next wave of cancer immunotherapies.”
Kevin Pojasek, President and CEO of Enara Bio, added: “We are extremely pleased to enter this strategic licensing agreement, our first major deal leveraging our pioneering Dark Antigen discovery and validation capabilities. Boehringer Ingelheim is an innovation-led company dedicated to producing breakthrough treatments with a significant focus on cancer.”
Under the agreement, Boehringer Ingelheim has the option to license Dark Antigens discovered and validated by Enara Bio. Boehringer Ingelheim will also be responsible for all non-clinical and clinical development, as well as commercialisation of associated cancer immunotherapies, including therapeutic vaccines and T-cell redirecting biologics. Enara Bio retains rights to use any discovered antigens for use in cell therapy-based products.
Enara Bio is eligible to receive an upfront payment, together with research/preclinical milestones and licensing fees for each tumor type that is explored. Enara Bio is also eligible to receive more than EUR 876 million in clinical, regulatory and commercial milestones, in addition to royalties on future product sales.