On Thursday, Mersana Therapeutics signed a research and licensing deal with Janssen Biotech to access each other’s proprietary technology in discovering new antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) for three cancer targets.
Janssen Biotech, owned by Johnson & Johnson, will provide its proprietary antibodies for research, while Mersana will contribute its proprietary Dolasynthem platform to target cancers with large unmet medical needs.
The research collaboration and licensing agreement, which is being facilitated by Johnson & Johnson Innovation, may also leverage Synaffix’s GlycoConnectTM technology for site-specific ADC bioconjugation.
Mersana will have a significant role during the preclinical development process, while Janssen will solely handle clinical development and commercialization. The deal’s financial terms include Mersana receiving $40 million upfront and being eligible for the reimbursement of expenses. The company may also potentially gain over $1 billion down the road in milestone payments, as well as royalties from the global sales of ADCs against certain targets.
“Our fully homogenous Dolasynthen platform enables both precise control of drug-to-antibody ratio (DAR) as well as the ability to vary the DAR across a broad range. Dolasynthen provides a unique opportunity to optimally design an ADC matched to a given target. We look forward to bringing both the differentiated capabilities of our Dolasynthen platform and our deep expertise in optimizing ADCs to this collaboration,” said Anna Protopapas, the president and chief executive officer of Mersana, in a statement.
The Dolasynthen platform enables researchers to utilize iterative approaches in developing the right ADCs for specific indications. It uses a synthetic scaffold to precisely control DAR and facilitate site-specific antibody bioconjugation. In addition, Dolasynthen is loaded with Merasna’s proprietary auristatin chemotherapeutic drug, which can be selectively toxic to rapidly dividing cells.
Mersana currently has several candidate cancer medicines in its pipeline, including a Phase I study of XMT-1592, a first Dolasynthen ADC that targets NaPi2b in NSCLC adenocarcinoma, a Phase I trial of XMT-1660, another Dolasynthen ADC targeting B7-H4 in breast, endometrial and ovarian cancers, and a Phase I study of XMT-2056, a HER2-targeted immunosynthen STING-agonist ADC in HER2-expressing tumors. The company expects to unveil two new development candidates in the first half of 2022.
“By extending our platforms and expertise to new programs beyond our promising wholly-owned and first-in-class pipeline of ADC candidates, we see this value-driving collaboration as further strengthening our financial position as we seek to deliver important new treatments for patients living with cancer,” added Protopapas in the same press release.