Steve Arkinstall, Revitope CEO

Mass­a­chu­setts biotech Re­vi­tope scores first col­lab­o­ra­tion thanks to dual-en­gag­ing T cell plat­form

Re­vi­tope On­col­o­gy be­gan 2020 hope­ful that its can­cer im­munol­o­gy plat­form would be fi­nal­ly ready to flour­ish. On Mon­day night, that plat­form nabbed the biotech its first col­lab­o­ra­tion.

The Mass­a­chu­setts-based com­pa­ny has agreed to a li­cens­ing agree­ment with Shang­hai-based Jun­shi Bio­sciences in which Re­vi­tope can re­ceive up to $160 mil­lion in de­vel­op­ment and com­mer­cial mile­stones, plus roy­al­ties. In ad­di­tion, Jun­shi will make a di­rect eq­ui­ty in­vest­ment of $10 mil­lion, equal to 9.99% of Re­vi­tope shares, as the two com­pa­nies work to de­vel­op a dual-anti­gen tar­get­ing can­cer ther­a­pies.

Re­vi­tope CEO Steve Arkin­stall was re­cruit­ed by Re­vit­rope from Kymab where he was chief sci­en­tif­ic of­fi­cer, and the way he de­scribes it, the part­ner­ship is very near­ly a per­fect fit.

“We’ve been de­vel­op­ing our T cell en­gager plat­form for the past three years and it re­al­ly reached the stage to op­ti­mize at the end of last year,” Arkin­stall told End­points News. “From very ear­ly on, Jun­shi was one of the com­pa­nies that showed enor­mous in­ter­est.”

Not on­ly did Jun­shi demon­strate the deep un­der­stand­ing of on­col­o­gy that Re­vi­tope sought from a part­ner, but it al­so pos­sessed a state-of-the-art an­ti­body dis­cov­ery unit. Re­vi­tope was par­tic­u­lar­ly im­pressed with Jun­shi’s han­dling of Covid-19 treat­ments in Chi­na — in which they se­quenced and de­vel­oped an­ti­bod­ies and launched a clin­i­cal tri­al in un­der nine months — and is ea­ger to ap­ply their plat­form to Jun­shi’s ex­ist­ing an­ti­body de­vel­op­ment tech­nol­o­gy.

Arkin­stall is so con­fi­dent in the biotechs’ com­pat­i­bil­i­ty that he said the two can es­sen­tial­ly hit the ground run­ning im­me­di­ate­ly. As part of the col­lab­o­ra­tion, Jun­shi is pro­vid­ing their pro­pri­etary an­ti­bod­ies for se­quenc­ing to in­cor­po­rate in­to Re­vi­tope’s plat­form. An­ti­body dis­cov­ery had been the “great lim­it­ing fac­tor” for Re­vi­tope pri­or to this deal, but no more.

“There’s no down­time from hav­ing to dis­cov­er an­ti­bod­ies; we can start en­gi­neer­ing pro­teins lit­er­al­ly on day 1,” said Arkin­stall, who be­came CEO in Jan­u­ary.

He de­scribed how con­ven­tion­al T cell can­cer treat­ments tar­get on­ly sin­gle anti­gens, which re­cruit T cells to at­tack not on­ly tu­mors with­in the body but al­so con­se­quent­ly harm healthy cells that car­ry the same anti­gen. Re­vi­tope, Arkin­stall said, has de­vel­oped a tech­nol­o­gy plat­form known as TEAC — T Cell En­gag­ing An­ti­body Cir­cuit — that uti­lizes dual-anti­gen tar­get­ing and al­lows drug can­di­dates to be as pre­cise as pos­si­ble.

Ef­fec­tive­ly, such can­di­dates will be in­ert un­til they come in­to con­tact with tu­mor cells co-ex­press­ing the dual-anti­gens and not at­tack healthy cells. Arkin­stall de­scribed it like a Venn di­a­gram; if a cell ex­press­es ei­ther anti­gen X or anti­gen Y, the TEAC mol­e­cule will not af­fect it. But if both anti­gens X and Y are present, in­di­cat­ing the tu­mor that Re­vi­tope wish­es to tar­get, the mol­e­cule will ac­ti­vate.

“That’s what it’s all about. It’s about se­lect­ing anti­gens that are co-ex­pressed on tu­mor cells and not on healthy cells or healthy tis­sue,” Arkin­stall said. “If you com­bine two anti­gens, X and Y, that are co-ex­pressed on tu­mors but not healthy cells, it’s opened up a new op­por­tu­ni­ty to ex­ploit those tar­get anti­gens.”

To­geth­er, Re­vi­tope and Jun­shi aim to de­vel­op up to five TEAC pairs us­ing Re­vi­tope’s plat­form and Jun­shi an­ti­bod­ies, and Arkin­stall hopes they’ll go far.

But Re­vi­tope is still just get­ting start­ed.

“We’ve been in­vest­ing in de­vel­op­ing the tech­nol­o­gy and it was on­ly re­al­ly at the be­gin­ning of this year that we were con­fi­dent it would reach prime time,” Arkin­stall said. “Jun­shi again with their en­thu­si­asm has been the quick­est to move, but we are in ac­tive dis­cus­sions with sev­er­al oth­er com­pa­nies at the mo­ment.”

5AM Ven­tures: Fu­el­ing the Next Gen­er­a­tion of In­no­va­tors

By RBC Capital Markets
With Andy Schwab, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at 5AM Ventures

Key Points

Prescription Digital Therapeutics, cell therapy technologies, and in silico medicines will be a vital part of future treatment modalities.
Unlocking the potential of the microbiome could be the missing link to better disease diagnosis.
Growing links between academia, industry, and venture capital are spinning out more innovative biotech companies.
Biotech is now seen by investors as a growth space as well as a safe haven, fuelling the recent IPO boom.

Biohaven CEO Vlad Coric (Photo Credit: Andrew Venditti)

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You know it’s bad when a biopharma player plucks out a subgroup analysis for a positive take — even though it was way off the statistical mark for success, like everything else.

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The drug — a revised version of the ALS drug riluzole designed to regulate glutamate — did not “statistically differentiate” from placebo on the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale-Cognitive Subscale 11 (ADAS-cog) and the Clinical Dementia Rating Scale Sum of Boxes (CDR-SB).  The “hippocampal volume” assessment by MRI also failed to distinguish itself from placebo for all patients fitting the mild-to-moderate disease profile they had established for the study.

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Janet Woodcock and Joshua Sharfstein (AP, Images)

Poll: Should Joshua Sharf­stein or Janet Wood­cock lead the FDA from here?

It’s time for a new FDA commissioner to come on board, a rite of passage for Joe Biden’s administration that should help seal the new president’s rep on seeking out the experts to lead the government over the next 4 years.

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Lilly will pay $40 million upfront with an additional $20 million equity stake in Merus NV to identify and develop three bispecific antibodies looking to engage the CD3 antigen on T cells and redirect immune cells, the Indianapolis pharma giant said Tuesday.

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Lon­za hits the ex­it on gel and liq­uid cap­sules, of­fload­ing 2 pro­duc­tion sites to NextPhar­ma

With the contract manufacturing market on a hot streak with the Covid-19 vaccine rollout, Lonza has opened its war chest in recent months for a suite of expansions. But now, with its focus elsewhere, the company is looking to contract its capsule offerings for pharma.

The CDMO giant will offload its lipid capsule production sites in Ploërmel, France, and Edinburgh, UK, as part of a plan to exit the pharmaceutical capsules space while maintaining its market foothold in consumer health and nutrition, the company said Tuesday.

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As coro­n­avirus vari­ants trig­ger new alarms, the NIH is putting an un­der-the-radar ‘next-gen’ vac­cine in­to PhI

Over the past year, the world has been transfixed by the development of new vaccines to fight SARS-CoV-2. In a frenzy of activity, the new mRNA approach has delivered pioneering emergency approvals in record time. And with some setbacks, the more traditional big players are coming along with added jabs as the most affluent nations in the world begin to vaccinate large portions of their populations.

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The IPO queue adds 5 more biotechs hop­ing to ring in 2021 by blitz­ing Nas­daq

Following a record year for IPOs — in terms of both proceeds and count — there’s already a long lineup of biotechs ready to jump onto Nasdaq in the new year. The companies are likely looking for much higher raises than they initially projected on their S-1s. Now it’s time to see if investors are still hungry for another round of biotech stocks.

Sana helped set the pace early on, as its founders look to divvy up a fortune from their IPO. And late last week 5 more biotechs crowded in, looking to pick up the pace where 2020 left off. Here they are:

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News brief­ing: Beam bags a $260M pri­vate place­ment; mi­Ra­gen re­brands to Virid­i­an Ther­a­peu­tics

Agios vet John Evans has demonstrated how to raise big money for a little biotech.

The Beam Therapeutics CEO — and ARCH partner — has pieced together a $260 million private placement from a group of backers that includes Perceptive Advisors, Farallon Capital, Casdin Capital, Redmile Group and Cormorant Asset Management. And there are 3 main goals they’ll pursue with it: clinical development, strategic partnerships and general corporate purposes.

As­traZeneca keeps the ball rolling on Dai­ichi-part­nered En­her­tu, pick­ing up 2nd in­di­ca­tion in gas­tric can­cer

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The FDA on Friday approved Enhertu to treat locally advanced or metastatic HER2-positive gastric or gastroesophageal junction adenocarcinoma in patients who have previously undergone at least one round of treatment with a Herceptin-based regimen, AstraZeneca said in a release.