Adimab LLC, of Lebanon, N.H., announced two new collaborations centered on its platform for generating therapeutic antibodies.
In a deal with Celgne Corp., of Summit, N.J., Adimab will use its technology to identify fully human antibodies against multiple targets, and for each, will give Celgene the right to develop and commercialize resulting antibodies. In a separate deal with Innovent Biologics Inc., of Suzhou, China, Adimab will apply its platform to identify a fully human therapeutic antibody for a target selected by Innovent.
Adimab CEO Tillman Gerngross told BioWorld Today that since the company launched its platform in 2009, it has made deals with half of the top 20 pharmaceutical companies.
"The early deals were all intended to demonstrate to our partners how much better the platform is vs. other options they have," Gerngross said.
Typically, Gerngross said, partners approach Adimab with one or two targets. That often develops into a relationship where the partner is sending Adimab one or two targets per year.
"Celgene is one where we went straight to a multitarget deal," Gerngross said.
Under its agreement with Adimab, Celgene will have the right to research antibodies generated during the collaboration for use as therapeutics, in exchange for an undisclosed up-front payment.
For each target, Celgene also will have the option to exclusively license antibodies, from which Adimab would receive license fees, clinical milestone payments and royalties.
Adimab has attracted its partners through its design of fully human antibodies. Unlike other antibody libraries, Adimab's libraries account for recombination of immunoglobulin gene segments, which recreates natural human pre-immune diversity.
That characteristic allows identification of fully human IgGs to many human targets that are otherwise refractory due to tolerance. The libraries have a theoretical diversity of 10e14, and in a typical campaign the company screens 10e10 unique, fully human IgGs.
According to Adimab, other established technologies such as phage display are limited in their aiblity to sample a large binding space because of the expression system used early in the discovery process.
Those qualities and more have lured Adimab's many partners, including Glaxosmithkline plc and Biogen Idec Inc., which signed new deals with Adimab in July. (See BioWorld Today, July 26, 2013.)
Regarding those deals, Gerngross noted that both companies liked Adimab's technology enough to bring it in-house, using it for drug discovery.
"If you look at the drug discovery universe, most people that have targets they want to go after have a decision: 'Do we want to target with a small molecule, or a biologic?'" Gerngross said. For biologics, antibodies are increasingly the go-to option.
Under its deal with Innovent, Adimab will use its platform to identify an anbitody to Innovent's choice of target, with Innovent coordinating all initial product development, including manufacturing and clinical trials.
Innovent will compensate Adimab for discovery and optimization of therapeutic leads, and Innovent will lead the development efforts, including cell line development, formulation, manufacturing and clinical trials.
Adimab will reimbuse Innovent for certain development costs.
Innovent will have development and commercialization rights for China, with Adimab retaining rights for the U.S., Europe and Japan, with royalties paid by each party to the other for the respective territories.
Gerngross called Innovent "a very interesting company" backed by Lilly Ventures and Fidelity, with a "very charismatic and successful CEO that has spent most of his time working in the U.S." Innovent is headed by Michael Yu.
"What he's managed to do is convince the Chinese government to build a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility outside of Shanghai. . . . They are also looking at exciting new targets and want to move further upstream."
Gerngross said that although Adimab never discloses the financial details of its deals, the company has a cash burn of about $15 million per year for its core business, which employs about 70 people, and its partnering deals cover all of its core expenses.
"We can run a cash-flow-neutral company by doing just that, and create long-term value as these molecules enter the clinic," Gerngross said.
Gerngross also highlighted the fact that Adimab has dominated the antibody discovery field. "We have not seen any phage deals. We've seen a few deals with new humanized mouse companies. We have absolutely cornered the market."
In addition to the two new deals, Adimab also disclosed that it had achieved technical milestones from its ongoing collaborations with Eli Lilly and Co., Gilead Sciences Inc. and Kyowa Hakko Kirin Co. Ltd.