Genmab enlists another antibody conjugate partner, teaming up with Bolt to develop up to 3 cancer programs
Big Danish biotech Genmab has signed on to a new collaboration, and it’s one both parties hope will tackle a broad swath of cancer indications.
Genmab is partnering with Bolt Biotherapeutics out of Redwood City, CA, to develop up to three new antibody-based conjugates in oncology. In the deal, Genmab is paying Bolt $10 million upfront and investing $15 million in equity, and Bolt is eligible for up to $285 million in milestones per target — a total that could equal $855 million when all is said and done.
It’s a collaboration that will see Genmab fund preclinical research and clinical development through proof of concept, while utilizing Bolt’s platform that creates what they call immune-stimulating antibody conjugates, or ISACs.
Bolt CEO Randy Schatzman declined to say which cancer fields the collaboration will be targeting, nor did he put a timeline on when they might reach the clinic. But he told Endpoints News there would be an “eye toward solving” some of the more challenging and aggressive cancers, ticking off pancreatic and colorectal cancer from among that list.
The partnership itself, Schatzman said, is well suited to both companies’ capabilities.
“Genmab is really one of the leading companies in the bispecific antibody space,” Schatzman told Endpoints. “This has been about taking several of those entities and turbocharging TLR agonists in those molecules.”
It’s a strategy that Genmab has been familiar with in the past, though Wednesday’s deal is on a much smaller scale. Almost a year ago, the biotech signed up with AbbVie for a deal worth $750 million upfront with more than $3 billion available in potential milestones. That partnership was designed to pair Genmab’s tech, which marshals T cell attacks on cancer cells, with AbbVie’s antibody-drug conjugate platform responsible for depositing toxic payloads into the cancer cells.
That framework is similar to how the new deal lines up, but Genmab is instead taking its technology to work with Bolt’s.
Bolt’s antibody platform comes from the inventor of the first cancer vaccine, Stanford immunologist Edgar Engleman. Whereas the vaccine process involved extracting dendritic cells, exposing them to a protein from the patients’ own tumors and reinfusing them, Bolt’s tech tries to directly activate these cells around tumors without the need for removal.
The platform is embodied in their lead program BDC-1001, which if successful would turn the environment around the tumor from immuno-suppressive to one that could not only kill the tumors once but potentially prevent a recurrence. Wednesday’s deal is for three entirely new programs, however.
With the deal in hand, Bolt is looking to capitalize on momentum from their February IPO. The biotech went public on a $230 million raise and priced at $20 per share, and the news sent Bolt $BOLT shares ticking upward about 2.5% in pre-market trading.