Rallybio, AbCellera form new partnership around antibodies for rare disease
Two biotechs that have been working heavily on different stages of antibody candidate development over the past several years are looking to work together to find potential candidates for rare diseases.
Canadian-based AbCellera and Connecticut-based Rallybio have entered a strategic partnership to find, develop and commercialize antibodies primarily for rare diseases. The multi-year, multi-target deal will seek to combine AbCellera’s antibody “discovery engine” with Rallybio’s expertise in rare diseases. However, the dollar amount for the deal was not disclosed.
Under the terms of the agreement, both biotechs will co-develop drugs against up to five rare disease targets, which will eventually be chosen by both AbCellera and Rallybio. The collaboration will also allow Rallybio to add product candidates to its existing pipeline. It also provides the option for AbCellera to conduct the development and clinical manufacturing of the researched therapies. However, the financial terms of the deal or a timeline for when both companies plan to start moving toward the clinic were not immediately available to Endpoints News.
But Rallybio CEO Martin Mackay said in an email to Endpoints that for each program, both AbCellera and Rallybio each have the option to make an additional investment at the “progressive stages of clinical development” and maintain up to a 50% ownership stake in each program. Mackay added that the minimum royalty, which is based on the stage of development that the opt-out occurred, can range from low double-digits to mid-double-digits.
The companies will initially focus on addressing the areas of hematology, immuno-inflammation, maternal-fetal health and metabolic disorders.
“Rallybio’s team has decades of experience in sourcing, identifying, and evaluating therapeutic targets. By bringing together Rallybio’s deep expertise in rare diseases with AbCellera’s integrated technology for delivering clinical leads with unmatched precision and speed, this partnership creates a unique advantage that we believe will deliver new and transformative medicines to patients,” AbCellera founder and CEO Carl Hansen said in a statement.
Mackay said in his statement that AbCellera’s discovery engine will strengthen its efforts in identifying “novel rare disease candidates” to add to Rallybio’s pipeline.
AbCellera is no stranger to forging deals. Last year, the company partnered up with Moderna on up to six undisclosed targets for a range of mRNA-encoded drugs that were harvested from AbCellera’s discovery platform. AbCellera also rose to prominence for working with Eli Lilly and producing the antibody for its Covid-19 treatment.
Meanwhile, AbCellera has broken ground on the first phase of its 380,000-square-foot campus expansion in Vancouver, while it looks to boost its manufacturing capabilities as it also has broken ground on a new site in the city.
Earlier this year, Rallybio had out-licensed an asset from Sanofi, which can help with severe anemia with ineffective erythropoiesis and iron overload, for $3 million in addition to promising development and commercial milestones and mid to high single-digit royalties on net sales.