An initial partnership for Invenra
MADISON, Wis. & OXFORD, U.K.—Invenra Inc., which specializes in next-generation therapeutic human antibodies and antibody derivatives, is stepping into the partnering sphere with a collaboration announcement involving Oxford BioTherapeutics (OBT) as its first partner. The agreement is for the identification and characterization of a panel of fully human therapeutic monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) against a novel cancer target identified by OBT through its OGAP discovery platform.
The terms of the deal stipulate that OBT will make an initial payment to Invenra upon receiving a panel of novel mAbs confirmed to meet mutually agreed-upon design goals and specifications. After that point, OBT will assume responsibility for further development of the therapeutic product candidates. Should they be successfully developed, Invenra stands to receive additional milestone payments and royalties on net sales of the therapeutic and diagnostic products. OBT will also gain diagnostic product rights from Invenra as well as the option of developing diagnostic products. Specific financial details were not disclosed.
“OBT is passionate about developing targeted cancer therapies for patients, and we are excited to be working with Invenra on a new approach to pursue mAb-based therapies,” Keith Wilson, chief scientific officer at OBT, remarked in a press release. “This collaboration leverages the complementary expertise of our two companies in identifying optimal mAbs against targets differentially expressed in cancer.”
Invenra’s platform, which is based on ultra-high-throughput technology to synthesize hundreds of thousands of full- length antibodies via cell-free expression and release them into nanowells, enables quick, direct interrogation against cells in a multiplexed fashion. Mark Kubik, Invenra’s vice president of business development, notes that the two main approaches to developing antibodies are in-vitro-based approaches like Invenra’s, which focus on libraries, and animal- or in-vivo-based approaches “using either a traditional mouse to generate a mouse monoclonal antibody that then gets humanized, or any number of different transgenic animals that have had human immunoglobulin genes inserted into them to in theory create human monoclonal antibodies coming out of a mouse system.” Invenra works with its library and will then “move into full IgG [Immunoglobulin G] molecules using a cell-free expression technology that we use, and then we analyze these very large panels of full IgGs directly in phenotypic assays.”
“Because we’re an in-vitro system, we’re not driven by the immunodominance of a particular target antigen...our platform technology, in contrast, because it’s an in-vitro approach, it’s completely agnostic to the immunodominance of any given target antigen,” Kubik tells DDNews. “So rather than an antibody response that’s being driven against a very specific immunodominant element of that target antigen, our antibodies are going to be binding all over that target antigen...so one of the compelling differentiation hypotheses for the Invenra technology is that we’re going to find the antibodies that bind all over that target antigen, in different epitopes, and then you can choose which antibody is the one that does exactly what you want it to do.”
Roland Green, CEO and president of Invenra, added that, “This collaboration is a major milestone for Invenra as a company and a validation of our innovative technology. We are delighted to be collaborating with Oxford BioTherapeutics to identify best- in-class antibodies against their novel oncology target. In addition, this collaboration with OBT fits well within our business model, whereby we are making our technology available to a select group of companies while continuing to develop our own internal proprietary pipeline of therapeutic product candidates.”
Given Invenra’s approach and OBT’s focus on oncology and a core competency centered on target discovery that has produced a variety of “very interesting targets,” Kubik says the U.K.-based company was a nice fit for them as a partner.
“We definitely believe that this is just the beginning of a hopefully long and fruitful relationship, so I think it could definitely add a lot of value for both us and OBT in the sense that there are additional programs that we can work on together,” says Kubik.