Boehringer & Enara Bio forge cancer immunotherapy agreement

Boehringer Ingelheim and Enara Bio have entered into a strategic collaboration and licensing agreement to research and develop novel targeted cancer immunotherapies, leveraging the latter’s Dark Antigen discovery platform.

This new collaboration combines Boehringer Ingelheim’s approach to tackle cancer through pairing leading science with innovative immune-oncology platforms, such as oncolytic viruses and cancer vaccines, with Enara Bio’s expertise in cancer antigen identification.

The aim is to provide potential new therapies for patients with difficult to treat lung and gastrointestinal cancers.

Jonathon Sedgwick, Senior Vice President and Global Head, Cancer Immunology & Immune Modulation Research, Boehringer Ingelheim, said: “We are advancing a unique pipeline of cancer cell-directed agents, immuno-oncology therapies and intelligent combination approaches to help combat cancer.

“Enara Bio’s unique discovery platform offers a novel and highly differentiated approach that will allow us to look beyond the known proteome to identify and characterize Dark Antigens to support the development of T-Cell Receptor (TCR)-directed immunotherapies and therapeutic vaccines.

“We believe this is a highly innovative and promising approach to the development of the next wave of cancer immunotherapies.”

Enara Bio’s proprietary Dark Antigen Platform Technology (EDAPT) will be used to discover and validate novel Dark Antigens in up to three tumour types in the lung and gastrointestinal cancer space.

The discovery of shared antigens could lead to the development of vaccines that can be readily utilised to help a broader group of cancer patients.

Dark Antigens represent a new class of cancer-associated antigens that derive from the genomic dark matter, or the portion of the human genome that is normally not expressed as protein.

Dark Antigen-encoding sequences are usually silenced in healthy cells but are activated and presented on tumour cells. They are associated with specific cancer types and, importantly, are shared across patients. Since typically not visible to the immune system, they represent a large potential repertoire of novel antigens that can be developed as targets for new immunotherapies.

Under the agreement, Boehringer Ingelheim has the option to license Dark Antigens discovered and validated by Enara Bio.

Boehringer Ingelheim will also be responsible for all non-clinical and clinical development, as well as commercialization of associated cancer immunotherapies, including therapeutic vaccines and T-cell redirecting biologics.

Enara Bio retains rights to use any discovered antigens for use in cell therapy-based products.

Enara Bio is eligible to receive an upfront payment, together with research/preclinical milestones and licensing fees for each tumor type that is explored. It is also eligible to receive more than EUR 876 million in clinical, regulatory and commercial milestones, in addition to royalties on future product sales.

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