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2 July, 2018 - 13:25 By Tony Quested

Abzena wins $5.9m to help develop new prostate cancer drug

abzena, cambridge, biopharma, antibodies

Australian-owned pharmaceutical business Telix is paying Cambridge-based Abzena $5.9 million to manufacture and provide antibody development for a potential prostate cancer drug.

Abzena’s Cambridge UK and San Diego facilities will share the focus of the alliance after the companies signed GMP manufacturing and bioconjugation agreements.

Telix is a biopharmaceutical company specialising in the development and commercialisation of radiopharmaceuticals for diagnostic imaging and therapeutic use.

Abzena will progress two PSMA-targeting monoclonal antibodies for the purposes of targeted treatment of metastatic prostate cancer. 

This new work builds on the July 2017 announcement disclosing that Abzena had granted a licence to specific antibody-related IP that has been incorporated into Telix’s PSMA radiopharmaceutical programme.

Subject to successful development, this could deliver significant licence fees and milestone payments to Abzena over its lifetime.

On completion of cell line development currently being performed by Abzena using its Composite CHO™ platform, the research cell banks for both antibodies will be transferred to Abzena’s San Diego facility for further process development, generation of master cell banks and scale-up for manufacturing up to 500L utilising Abzena’s recently upgraded biomanufacturing platform.

Abzena will also develop a bioconjugation process for one of the antibodies. The bioconjugation process and analytical development will be performed in Cambridge before the process is transferred to Abzena’s GMP manufacturing facility in San Diego for clinical batch production.

More than 1.1 million cases of prostate cancer were recorded in 2012, accounting for around eight per cent of all new cancer cases and 15 per cent in men. 

It is one of the four most common cancers occurring worldwide, with a significant unmet clinical need. The global market for the prevention and treatment of prostate cancer was expected to reach $50.3 billion in 2017.

Abzena CEO John Burt  said: “Taking forward another clinical product containing Abzena’s intellectual property, including through to GMP manufacturing, demonstrates the scope of Abzena’s integrated offering, with all our business areas providing scientific expertise and input as well as use of our proprietary technologies.

“Our upgraded capabilites in San Diego will enable us to quickly scale-up production of this product. It is very pleasing for our technology and expertise to be involved in a project with great potential in such an important disease area.”

His counterpart at Telix, Christian Behrenbruch, said: “Taking these products through to the next stage of manufacturing development is a milestone for us and Abzena is a trusted partner with proven expertise and a strong track record. 

“Our aim is to deliver the next generation of highly-targeted radiation oncology therapy, focusing on prostate cancer as an area of critical need. This agreement with Abzena is key to us achieving that aim, expanding on our collective technologies to create and manufacture an effective and optimised PSMA antibody-directed radiation product.”

Abzena recently moved into new, state-of-the-art laboratories at Babraham’s Thinkspace facility.

• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: John Burt

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