Mersana, Endo to collaborate on ADC development
CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—Mersana Therapeutics, Inc. and Endo Pharmaceuticals have established a collaboration agreement for the development of next-generation antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs). Per the terms of the agreement, Endo will pay an upfront fee of an undisclosed amount to Mersana for the right to utilize Mersana's Fleximer technology to develop novel ADC candidates against a particular cancer target.
"The collaboration with Mersana further enhances Endo's Discovery and Early Development portfolio and is validation of our collaborative R&D approach for drug discovery and development," Ivan Gergel, Executive Vice President of R&D and Chief Scientific Officer at Endo, said in a press release. "Using Mersana's Fleximer-ADC technology, we aim to develop more efficacious and safer treatment options to improve patient outcomes."
Mersana will be responsible for research related to and the creation of ADCs that are conjugates of its highly potent cytotoxic payloads, its Fleximer polymer and custom linkers and Endo's novel antibodies. In addition to the aforementioned funding, Endo is responsible for providing novel antibodies as well as product development, manufacturing and commercialization of any Fleximer-ADC products. As part of the agreement, the two companies may agree to pursue two additional targets over the course of the next two years. If all three targets end up being pursued, Mersana will stand to receive more than $270 million in progress-dependent milestones as well as royalties on worldwide net sales of any ADC products that result from the agreement.
Mersana's next-generation ADC technology is based on Fleximer, its proprietary biodegradable polymer system, as well as a wide variety of novel linkers that allow for a broad range of anti-tumor payloads to be attached to Fleximer. Once Fleximer is loaded with the drug, it is attached to an antibody or antibody fragment through a highly stable linker in order to create an ADC. The novel linker systems are engineered to be stable in the blood stream as well as to release their payloads once they get inside of their targeted cancer cell. The technology offers the ability to deliver alternative payloads beyond anti-tubulins, as well as the opportunity to drastically increase drug loading per antibody. The potential to use it with antibody fragments in addition to monoclonal antibodies is another benefit.
"Our proprietary conjugation technologies, centered on Fleximer, are particularly well-suited to expand the therapeutic potential of ADCs by enabling greater cytotoxic payload, diverse mechanisms of action, better tumor penetration, and improved stability achieved with optimized linkers," Nick Bacopoulos, Chief Executive Officer of Mersana, said in a press release. "We look forward to working with Endo to incorporate their antibodies against a very promising oncology target into next-generation Fleximer-ADC candidates. We expect this to be just the first of several important Fleximer-ADC collaborations for Mersana."
SOURCE: Mersana Therapeutics press release