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UK-based SME offers access to novel bispecific antibody drug conjugate technology to companies and research institutions

Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Reference Number: TOUK20180416003
Publication Date: 16 April 2018


A UK-based SME is developing a novel antibody drug conjugate technology for treating cancer. Their approach is to target two individual cancer cell markers rather than just one preventing the non-specific targeting of healthy cells, a common problem with conventional ADCs. During development the SME will generate a library of these compounds. They are offering companies, research institutions and universities access to this library under a licensing agreement or a technical cooperation agreement


There have been many innovations in the treatment of cancer one of which has been the use of antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) where antibodies that target markers on cancer cells are linked to chemotherapy drugs. This enables the drug to be delivered to the cancer cell directly. However despite the promise of this approach for treating cancer it does have a significant drawback that has severely limited its clinical development. Many of the markers used as antibody targets for ADCs are also expressed at lower concentrations on healthy cells. This results in non-specific targeting of healthy cells by ADCs resulting in sometimes severe adverse effects for patients.

A UK-based SME is developing an ADC technology that aims to overcome this. Their approach is to use bispecific antibodies, with reduced affinity in their ADC construct, to selectively target two markers that are solely co-expressed on the surface of the cancer cells. Through reducing the binding affinity in both arms of the bispecific, the company aims to selectively deliver the ADC solely to the cancer cells that express this combination of antigens, avoiding delivery to healthy cells that may express just one of the two antigens, but not both. Therefore avoiding the problems of non-specific targeting of healthy cells.

The SME's approach has been validated and they are now working on developing this technology for the treatment of acute myeloid leukaemia. As part of this development programme the SME will generate a library of bispecific targeting vectors with varying dual reduced affinities that will be screened for selective internalisation against a range of double antigen positive cancer cells vs single antigen positive healthy cells. The company aims to select combinations which will be suitable for an ADC approach displaying superior cancer selectivity. There may also be a number of bispecific constructs within this library that may be more suitable for a selective CAR-T or T-cell re-directing approach, offering similar benefits on selectively binding and engagement with double antigen positive cancer cells vs single antigen positive healthy tissues. They would therefore like to offer access to this library following selection of their lead compounds to other companies interested in CAR T cell therapy and redirected T cell therapy and those interested in acute myeloid leukaemia therapeutics. It is expected that this partnership will take the form of a technical cooperation or a license agreement depending in the specific situation.

Advantages and Innovations

The SME's novel ADC technology has the following advantages:

The use of bispecific antibody technology enables two separate cancer cell markers to be selectively targeted preventing non-specific targeting of single antigen positive healthy cells.

This technology will enable a wider therapeutic window due to specific targeting enabling higher doses of chemotherapy drugs to be used.

The specific targeting will also reduce the adverse effects currently seen with ADC technology and which has led to the removal of many ADC and acute myeloid leukaemia-based therapeutics from the clinic.

Stage Of Development

Under development/lab tested

Requested partner

The SME is looking to partner with companies but also research institutions and universities that have an interest in CAR T cell therapy and redirected T cell therapy as well as those interested in acute myeloid leukaemia therapeutics.

The company will provide access to its library of bispecific ADC compound library following selection of its leads. This includes the sequences and in some cases the material itself. This access will be for partners to conduct their own research and development. The SME is also prepared to file divisional patents from its own IP filings to cover this work and to share the divisional IP with partners.

It is expected that the partnership will take the form of a licensing agreement or a technical cooperation depending on individual circumstances.

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