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Biotech, Regeneron in $2B Cancer Antibody Deal

Cancer magnified

(PDPics, Pixabay)

17 Nov. 2022. A developer of cancer treatments triggered by tumor chemistry is partnering with biologic drug maker Regeneron on dual-action cancer immunotherapies. The deal with Regeneron Pharmaceuticals in Tarrytown, New York is expected to bring CytomX Therapeutics in South San Francisco as much as $2 billion if all terms of the agreement are fulfilled.

CytomX Therapeutics designs cancer therapies that respond to the unique chemistry of the solid tumor microenvironment, the supportive network of cells and proteins that enable the unchecked growth of tumors. The biotechnology company says its synthetic antibodies are designed to work with a range of cancer treatments, including immunotherapies, antibody drug conjugates, and T-cells altered with chimeric antigen receptors.

The CytomX process creates synthetic antibody treatments for solid tumor cancers that respond to high concentrations of protease enzymes in the microenvironment. Proteases are found throughout the body, performing a range of functions. In solid tumor cancers, proteases are more abundant in the microenvironment, providing target signatures for CytomX therapies.

The company’s technology, called Probody, adds molecules that link to tumor cells on one arm of the antibody, but those molecules are activated only when masking molecules on the other arm are broken by the typically high protease concentrations in tumor microenvironments. Probody treatments, says the company, are not triggered by healthy tissue. As a result, says CytomX, its process releases cancer killing drugs only in tumors and not in healthy cells, making it possible to deliver higher cancer-killing doses than conventional chemotherapy drugs given systemically.

Dual-targeting antibodies that resemble natural antibodies

“CytomX has pioneered the field of conditionally-activated therapeutics,” says CytomX CEO Sean McCarthy in a statement,  “through high quality and differentiated science, leading to broad experience in biologic masking strategies and a deep understanding of the protease tumor microenvironment.”

Regneneron Pharmaceuticals is partnering with CytomX to apply the Probody technology to Regeneron’s bi-specific antibodies called Veloci-Bi. Regeneron says its bi-specific or dual-targeting antibodies resemble natural antibodies, but with immunotherapy properties, allowing the arms of the antibodies to link with both tumor cells and T-cells, to activate an immune system response. The company says its pipeline includes treatments for solid tumor and blood-related cancers.

Under the agreement, CytomX and Regeneron are collaborating to identify and validate new bi-specific antibodies that activate only under certain conditions, such as in the presence of tumor microenvironments. Regeneron will fund and be responsible for preclinical and clinical development of treatment candidates from the collaboration, as well as subsequent commercialization. CytomX is receiving a an initial payment of $30 million, and is eligible for target identification, preclinical, clinical, and commercialization milestones up to $2 billion if all terms of the deal are met, as well as royalties on future product sales.

“This collaboration,” says John Lin, Regeneron’s vice-president for immuno-oncology, “will enable Regeneron and CytomX to combine our collective oncology expertise with two premier platforms, Probody and Veloci-Bi, to develop novel immunotherapies and research their potential to transform patient lives.”

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