Pfizer, CytomX unite in strategic oncology collaboration
SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO—Biotechnology company CytomX Therapeutics, Inc. and Pfizer Inc. have begun a global strategic collaboration for the development and commercialization of multiple Probody-Drug Conjugates (PDCs). Per the terms of the agreement, Pfizer will gain exclusive rights for the development and commercialization of select PDCs. CytomX and Pfizer will collaborate on the preclinical research, and Pfizer will be responsible for developing and potentially commercializing any chosen PDCs. For its part, CytomX is eligible to receive up to approximately $25 million in upfront, research reimbursement and preclinical milestone payments, approximately $610 million in regulatory and sales milestone payments and tiered double-digit royalties on potential future sales.
"This partnership is a great example of how Pfizer is seeking to innovate new capabilities in cutting-edge science and technology platforms with the aim of delivering safer, more effective cancer medicines to patients," Robert T. Abraham, senior vice president and chief scientific officer of Pfizer's Oncology Research Unit, said in a press release. "Pfizer's investment in CytomX's emerging Probody Platform is an important component of our overall strategic focus to advancing the next generation of ADCs and reflects the disruptive potential of this approach."
CytomX's Probodies are "fully recombinant, masked antibodies that remain inert in healthy tissue but are activated specifically in the disease microenvironment," the company notes on its website. To achieve this, "Probodies leverage dysregulated protease activity, a hallmark of many disease states, to locally activate in the disease tissue." CytomX's proprietary Probody Platform provides a highly differentiated approach for the development of safer and more effective drugs, ensuring that Probodies bind only with antigens in diseased tissue by inhibiting their ability to bind with healthy tissue.
"Combining our novel Probody Platform with Pfizer's broad capabilities in ADCs marks an important milestone for CytomX and underscores the potential of our Probody Platform to enable new generations of empowered antibodies," Sean McCarthy, D.Phil., CytomX's CEO, commented in a statement. "Our innovative science is driving the development of groundbreaking Probodies and PDCs that have already demonstrated preclinical activity when selectively activated within the tumor microenvironment. We look forward to collaborating with Pfizer with the aim of researching and developing highly differentiated PDC products that have the potential to change the way cancer is treated."
No details were released as to the specific cancer targets that CytomX and Pfizer might be considering, but CytomX currently has several products under development in its pipeline in oncology and inflammation. Its most developed oncology product candidate, CTX-023, targets the Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR), as EGFR represents a leading prime target in several kinds of small tumors that lack for approved antibody therapeutics, such as non-small cell lung cancer.