With cancer in focus, Amgen taps Molecular Partners' preclinical immune-oncology asset for $50M upfront
The molecule is designed to locally activate immune cells in the tumor by binding to fibroblast activation protein (FAP) on tumor stromal cells, while simultaneously stimulating T cells. It’s part of Molecular’s DARPin platform tech, which the company says it developed to create a new class of small protein therapeutic agents derived from natural ankyrin repeat proteins – one of the most common binding proteins responsible for cell signaling and receptor binding.
Under the deal, Amgen gets exclusive global development and commercial rights for MP0310, although the two will jointly evaluate MP0310 in combination with Amgen’s arsenal of oncology drugs-in-development, including its BiTE molecules. However, Molecular will retain the right to test its other DARPin pipeline products in combination with MP0310.
Switzerland-based Molecular, which is already working with Allergan $AGN on a drug for macular degeneration, gets $50 million upfront and is eligible to receive up to $497 million in milestone payments, as well as royalties on potential sales that emerge from the deal. The company expects the drug to enter the clinic next year, CEO Patrick Amstutz said.
Molecular’s founders, including Amstutz, worked together as PhD students and post-docs in the biochemistry department at the University of Zurich where they created their tech platform in the hopes of bringing together multiple small proteins with the ability to inhibit multiple disease-specific targets in a single medicine.