News & Views
Collaboration to Develop Novel Class of Drug Conjugate
Aug 01 2018 Read 586 Times
Bach BioSciences, a company commercialising the research of William Bachovchin, Professor of Developmental, Chemical and Molecular Biology at Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston and biotherapeutics and reagents developer Avacta Group, are working together on the development of a new class of Affirmer drug conjugate that selectively releases a potent drug in the tumour microenvironment (TME) without requiring cellular internalisation of the conjugate.
The company and the university have jointly filed for broad patent protection covering Affimers and a wide range of other binders, against oncology, viral and inflammatory targets that are not internalised rapidly enough to be useful in traditional antibody-drug conjugates. It also covers a wide range of drugs to which the binders can be conjugated.
Dr Alastair Smith, Chief Executive Officer of Avacta Group, commented: “We are very excited indeed by this highly novel Affimer drug conjugate concept, the first example of which builds on our own PD-L1 programme and the world-class research of Professor Bachovchin at Tufts University School of Medicine, one of the top US medical schools and research institutes.
“We believe that this new drug conjugate platform is transformational for the business. From our initial discussions with several large pharmaceutical companies, it is clear that there is significant interest and there is certainly the potential for partnering at an early stage once we have the appropriate supporting data from the collaboration with Professor Bachovchin.”
He added that broad patent protection for this dual mode of action therapy would be extremely valuable because it could be applied to a wide range of cancers for which patient response to checkpoint inhibitors alone is not high.
Summarising the role of the new conjugate Dr Amrik Basran, Chief Scientific Officer of Avacta Group, added: “Cancer immunotherapy can be an effective treatment strategy, but pharmaceutical companies’ early enthusiasm has given way to the reality of limited patient responses that the industry is now trying to address. The Affimer-drug conjugate circulates as a single molecule, in which the conjugated drug is inert, until it encounters enzymes selectively expressed in tumours, where the drug is released and through its mechanism of action is designed to turn immunologically “cold” tumours “hot” and receptive to immunotherapy. It is our expectation that this will increase the percentage of responsive patients dramatically and in doing so, it will make a meaningful difference to the lives of a great many cancer patients.”
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