Chi­nese play­er joins a grow­ing group of biotechs buy­ing in­to Synaf­fix's ADC link­er tech

In de­vel­op­ing any an­ti­body-drug con­ju­gate, the link­er — the hy­phen be­tween the anti­gen-bind­ing an­ti­body and the can­cer-killing drug — is of ut­most im­por­tance. Link too much pay­load to the an­ti­body too loose­ly, and you risk trig­ger­ing off-site tox­i­c­i­ty while the ADC is cir­cu­lat­ing through blood; link too lit­tle, and it falls short of the goal to kill off can­cer cells from with­in. And while a host of drug­mak­ers have fol­lowed Seat­tle Ge­net­ics’ lead in­to new link­er tech­nol­o­gy, in some cas­es de­ploy­ing en­gi­neer­ing the an­ti­bod­ies, there’s still much to be learned about con­trol­ling the re­sult­ing AD­Cs.

Dutch biotech Synaf­fix be­lieves it has the tools to do pre­cise­ly that. Judg­ing from a $125 mil­lion li­cens­ing pact it just signed off on, Chi­na’s Miraco­gen does, too.

An­tho­ny De­Boer

“The first gen­er­a­tion of AD­Cs in the Chi­nese mar­ket were pre­dom­i­nant­ly biosim­i­lars or bio­bet­ters of Kad­cy­la,” Synaf­fix CEO Pe­ter van de Sande told me. But reg­u­la­to­ry re­forms have im­posed “pres­sure on more first-in-class and best-in-class prod­ucts in Chi­na that is dri­ving in­no­va­tion and dri­ving a need for in­creased ther­a­peu­tic in­dex” — the com­bined mea­sure of ef­fi­ca­cy and safe­ty.

Synaf­fix first got start­ed five months ago, tak­ing an an­ti­body from Miraco­gen and putting it through its two plat­forms, re­sult­ing in a pro­to­type ADC with­in a month. Hav­ing test­ed the can­di­date in pre­clin­i­cal mod­els, the Chi­nese part­ner is now ready to go for clin­i­cal tri­als — thus the need for a de­vel­op­ment and com­mer­cial li­cense, said An­tho­ny De­Boer, Synaf­fix’s di­rec­tor of busi­ness de­vel­op­ment.

Com­ing out of Rad­boud Uni­ver­si­ty, the Gly­co­Con­nect tech­nol­o­gy re­lies on gly­cans as an an­chor­ing point in an­ti­bod­ies, en­zy­mat­i­cal­ly re­mov­ing them to cre­ate space for the pay­load, which is at­tached through cop­per-free click chem­istry. Hy­dra­Space, mean­while, is Synaf­fix’s way of ex­tend­ing their AD­Cs’ half lives.

These are tech­nolo­gies that ADC Ther­a­peu­tics and Mer­sana have pre­vi­ous­ly bought in­to, van de Sande said, al­low­ing the com­pa­ny to re­fine the man­u­fac­tur­ing process­es for the en­zymes and small mol­e­cules in­volved in the process.

The part­ner­ship with Miraco­gen marks Synaf­fix’s first in­roads in­to Asia, added to key en­dorse­ments from some ADC ex­perts. Mary Hu, Miraco­gen’s CEO, was a for­mer ex­ec at Seat­tle Ge­net­ics along­side one of her VPs.

Synaf­fix does not yet have a pipeline of its own, but van de Sande is look­ing for more part­ner­ships — not just in the ADC field but for oth­er modal­i­ties such as cell ther­a­py and ra­dio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals as its tech is “per­fect­ly catered for in­cor­po­rat­ing any mol­e­cules of in­ter­est to a gly­can pro­tein in an an­ti­body” for tar­get­ed de­liv­ery.


Im­age: Pe­ter van de Sande. SYNAF­FIX

John Hood [file photo]

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CEO Pascal Soriot via Getty Images

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