Exelixis is enabled to expand its biotherapeutics pipeline by selecting antibody candidates against targets identified using BioInvent’s immuno-oncology (IO) screening platform and antibody library


Exelixis, BioInvent collaborate on IO therapies. (Credit: Michal Jarmoluk from Pixabay)

US-based drug discovery firm Exelixis and Swedish biotech company BioInvent have signed an option and license agreement to identify and develop novel antibodies for immuno-oncology therapeutics.

The collaboration aims to expand Exelixis’ portfolio of antibody-based therapies and allows for parallel target and antibody discovery using BioInvent’s capabilities.

It combines BioInvent’s expertise in cancer immunology and antibody biology with Exelixis’ expertise in antibody engineering and antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) technologies, and in developing and marketing oncology therapeutics.

The collaboration will identify the target and antibody using BioInvent’s n-CoDeR antibody library and patient-centric F.I.R.S.T screening platform.

BioInvent CEO Martin Welschof said: “BioInvent is committed to translating our expertise in cancer immunology and antibody mechanism of action into innovative IO therapies that can improve outcomes for patients.

“Exelixis has a demonstrated track record of success in both commercializing important new oncology medicines and establishing highly productive collaborations that integrate diverse and complementary skill sets and technologies.”

Under the agreement, Exelixis will obtain rights to select three targets identified using BioInvent’s proprietary F.I.R.S.T platform and n-CoDeR library.

In exchange, it will make an upfront payment of $25m to BioInvent, which will carry out the initial target and antibody discovery, and characterisation of antibody mechanism of action.

Exelixis holds the right to in-license any of the target programs after a development candidate directed to that target is identified.

Exercise of the in-license option involves an option exercise fee and Exelixis will be responsible for all future development and marketing for the development candidate.

Furthermore, BioInvent is eligible to receive additional milestone payments, along with tiered royalties on the annual net sales of any products emerging from the collaboration.

Exelixis executive vice president, scientific strategy and chief scientific officer Peter Lamb said: “Expanding our biotherapeutics pipeline is a key strategic priority, and this agreement provides Exelixis with access to BioInvent’s antibody and cancer immunology expertise centred around the innovative F.I.R.S.T discovery platform.

“We believe this patient-centric and biology-driven approach has great potential to identify novel targets and enable the development of differentiated antibody-based IO therapies.”