Abpro bags $60M in near-term R&D cash in tie-up with China's NJCTTQ, with eyes on bispecific T cell engagers
As Abpro marches toward human testing for its first immuno-oncology drug, the Woburn, MA-based synthetic biology player has scored $60 million in a sizable development deal with a Chinese partner.
The partnership with NJCTTQ — a storied pharma with a fleet of R&D and sales staffers in China — marks Abpro’s first high profile pact since tying up with AstraZeneca’s MedImmune three years ago. And the two deals share the same focus: bispecific antibodies.
More specifically, NJCTTQ is promising $4 billion in biobucks — $60 million of which will come soon in the form of R&D funding — to get its hands on T cell engagers generated by Abpro’s DiversImmune antibody discovery platform. After sharing the preclinical and clinical development burdens, the Chinese firm will retain commercialization rights China while Abpro keeps the rights to sell in pretty much the rest of the world.
With the promise to latch T cells onto the tumor antigens of choice, bispecifics are emerging as the next big breakthrough in cancer immunotherapy hot on the heels of CAR-T, inspiring big bets from the likes of Amgen and Genentech.
“Our ex-China commercial rights have the potential to generate significant long-term value for our company,” said Ian Chan, executive chairman and co-founder of Abpro, in a statement. “We intend to pursue additional similar development collaborations that leverage our innovative technology platforms and programs that include commercial rights in key global markets.”
Abpro had intended to go public last May, setting terms for a $60 million IPO to fund clinical trials for both its cancer and eye drugs. Just a few days later, though, it decided to postpone the listing and we haven’t heard anything about that since.