New UK-US antibodies venture launched in Cambridge
Cambridge-based biopharma powerhouse Abzena has formed a UK-US joint antibodies venture with Dallas business Baylor Scott & White Research to develop novel immunotherapies.
The JV is being branded Denceptor Therapeutics and will be anchored in Cambridge. It will develop Abzena inside immunotherapeutic products to treat cancer and autoimmune diseases using Baylor Scott & White Research Institute’s dendritic cell receptor-targeting antibodies.
These antibodies will be humanised using Abzena’s Composite Human Antibody™ technology to reduce unwanted drug immunogenicity.
Denceptor will operate as a virtual business and outsource its development and manufacturing activities. Baylor Scott & White Research Institute and Abzena will be among the outsourced service providers.
The joint technology venture has secured the option to exclusively license antibodies from Baylor Scott & White Research Institute with a sub-licence to the humanised versions of the antibodies created by Abzena.
The antibodies will deliver antigens to specific receptors on dendritic cells to induce or suppress an immune response in order to treat a variety of cancers and autoimmune diseases.
Denceptor has been incorporated as a private limited company in Cambridge. It will seek third party funding to support the clinical development of the lead product, an HPV E6/E7 immunotherapy for head and neck cancer and other HPV-associated malignancies.
The funding will also be used to progress other preclinical stage programmes into clinical development and to cover the general running costs of the business. Abzena has the potential to receive future licence income from the separately funded development of these Abzena Inside products.
Dr Kevin FitzGerald has been appointed CEO of Denceptor and will be supported by Dr Matthew Baker as CSO. He has previously held CEO positions at PhosImmune Inc, Activiomics Limited, F-star GmbH and Isogenica. Matthew was the founder of Antitope, which is part of the Abzena Group, and is currently the CSO at Abzena.
Abzena CEO Dr John Burt said: “We have a longstanding relationship with Baylor and have always admired the work they do and recognise their significant expertise in the field of dendritic cell research.
“We believe that through this joint venture Abzena can make a significant contribution to the development of new, smart, immunotherapies to tackle difficult to treat conditions such as cancer and autoimmune diseases.”