Xencor, UCLA to partner for new therapeutic antibodies; Schrödinger expands partnership with Google Cloud
Seeking to build on the 20 clinical-stage drug candidates already in its pipeline, California oncology and autoimmune disease-focused biotech Xencor announced on Thursday a partnership with nearby UCLA and the university’s Technology Development Group.
The two will collaborate to develop novel therapeutic antibodies, pairing novel targets proposed by scientists at UCLA with Xencor’s XmAb technology platforms that engineer monoclonal antibodies to create new protein structures. No financial terms of the agreement were disclosed, but any selected drug candidates resulting from the partnership will use a framework of “predefined terms to enter sponsored research agreements and potential license agreements,” the organizations said.
“With this collaboration, we aim to accelerate the development of potential new biologic medicines, leveraging Xencor’s protein engineering technologies and expertise and the ongoing scientific discoveries and insights into disease biology made at UCLA, with the ultimate goal to improve patient outcomes and quality of life,” Mark Wisniewski, the senior director of biopharmaceuticals at UCLA TDG, said in a statement. —Conner Mitchell
Schrödinger expands deal with Google Cloud
Schrödinger is revisiting an old partnership with an expansion that both parties hope will be fruitful.
The New York, NY-based biotech announced Thursday it has broadened its deal with Google Cloud to further increase the speed and capacity of its platform for drug discovery. Previously, the entities had agreed to a three-year deal in 2019, but Thursday’s agreement replaces that with a new, five-year partnership.
Financial terms of the new deal were not disclosed. With the expansion, Schrödinger says it will gain hundreds of millions of graphics processing unit (GPU) hours, which will essentially triple its previous capacities.
“Our increased commitment provides unmatched computational scale to enable rapid, efficient and accurate exploration of chemical space, with a goal of advancing development programs for our pipeline,” CIO Shane Brauner said in a statement.
Thursday’s news comes roughly three months after Schrödinger signed on to a collaboration with Bristol Myers Squibb that saw the big pharma pay $55 million and promise up to $2.7 billion in potential milestones. That deal’s initial targets include HIF-2 alpha and SOS1/KRAS for a type of kidney cancer and KRAS-driven cancers, respectively. — Max Gelman
SpringWorks reports interim data from first 20 patients in Phase IIb NF1 therapeutic trial
Connecticut biotech SpringWorks on Thursday released a small set of data from the Phase IIb trial of its investigational MEK inhibitor mirdametinib, which seeks to treat adults and children with NF1-associated plexiform neurofibromas.
As of a Jan 22 cutoff date, half of the 20 patients achieved an objective response according to a blinded, independent central review, and 16 of 20 remained on the study, which reported a median treatment time of roughly 10 months.
SpringWorks CEO Saqib Islam said in a statement the company was pleased with the data, and expects to finish enrolling a full 100-patient trial by the second half of 2021.
“We are very encouraged by these emerging data from our ongoing ReNeu trial, as they reaffirm our belief that mirdametinib has the potential to be a best-in-class treatment for patients with NF1-PN,” Islam said.—Conner Mitchell