BOEHRINGER INGELHEIM ENTERS GLOBAL LICENSING AGREEMENT TO DEVELOP AND COMMERCIALIZE INNOVATIVE ANTIBODIES FROM A*STAR FOR TARGETED CANCER THERAPIES
Boehringer Ingelheim and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) today announced a global licensing agreement under which Boehringer Ingelheim will obtain exclusive worldwide rights to research, develop and commercialize products based on a panel of innovative, tumor-specific antibodies from A*STAR. Boehringer Ingelheim aims to use these antibodies to direct therapeutic effector mechanisms such as antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) and T-cell engagers exclusively to tumor cells, and to that end develop a range of highly targeted cancer treatments.
“Boehringer Ingelheim believes that these promising antibodies in-licensed from A*STAR will help us advance potent therapeutic candidates against key molecular cancer targets,” says Clive R. Wood, Senior Corporate Vice President and Global Head of Discovery Research at Boehringer Ingelheim and continues: “We look forward to developing these assets for a broad range of cancers with the goal to deliver breakthrough opportunities for patients.”
Boehringer Ingelheim is pioneering a range of versatile therapeutic platforms in order to develop innovative medicines that target the tumor directly (tumor cell-directed therapies) or that enable the immune system to target the tumor (immune cell-targeted therapies). One tumor cell-directed modality is antibody drug conjugates, which allows for delivery of toxins directly into tumor cells. Another is T-cell engagers facilitating direct contact between T-cells and tumor cells, leading to T-cell-mediated killing of the tumor. Both technologies are directed towards markers on the surface of cancer cells, also known as antigens, in order to attack tumor cells but spare healthy tissues.
The innovative antibodies from A*STAR can potentially enable the development of safer, more efficacious therapies as they selectively bind to antigens that are highly expressed on tumor cells but are absent on normal healthy tissues.
Under the terms of the agreement, Boehringer Ingelheim will be responsible for further research, preclinical and clinical development as well as commercialization of targeted cancer therapies using the antibodies from A*STAR. A*STAR may receive payments totalling >100 million EUR in upfront and success-based development and commercialization milestones.
The technology used to identify the unique A*STAR antibodies resulted from a multi-institutional collaboration in Singapore. A*STAR’s Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS) and Institute of Bioengineering & Bioimaging (IBB) generated antibodies which exclusively target antigens that were initially identified from gastric cancer cells. Experimental Drug Development Centre (EDDC), Singapore’s national platform for drug discovery and development hosted by A*STAR, then optimized the antibodies and confirmed their applicability to a range of other solid cancers. EDDC also demonstrated the utility of these antibodies in directing different therapeutic modalities selectively to cancer cells.
Professor Damian O'Connell, Chief Executive Officer of EDDC, says, “As Singapore's national drug discovery and development platform, EDDC is proud to translate great science in Singapore into valuable assets that can enable the precise treatment of cancer. We believe that Boehringer Ingelheim, with its broad expertise and technologies, is the right partner to maximize the potential of these antibodies for the development of safer, more targeted therapies for cancer patients.”
Professor Tan Sze Wee, Assistant Chief Executive (Enterprise) of A*STAR, says, “These antibodies were developed in Singapore through close collaboration across multiple institutions. There was also strong support by the Singapore Gastric Cancer Consortium. The agreement is testament to the best-in-class research taking place in Singapore. Cancer is a devastating disease, and we hope the fruits of our research can improve patient outcomes.”
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