Innate Pharma and OREGA Biotech today announce that they have entered into an exclusive licensing agreement by which OREGA Biotech grants Innate Pharma full worldwide rights to its program of first-in-class anti-CD39 checkpoint inhibitors. This license agreement arose from a fruitful research collaboration between the two companies initiated in 2014.
CD39, initially discovered as a checkpoint inhibitor by OREGA Biotech’s cofounder Dr. Armand Bensussan in collaboration with INSERM, is expressed on both regulatory T cells and tumor cells. It plays a major role in promoting immunosuppression through the pathway degrading adenosine triphosphate (ATP) into adenosine. Within the tumor microenvironment, ATP promotes immune cell-mediated killing of cancer cells. In contrast, adenosine accumulation causes immune suppression and dysregulation of immune cell infiltrates resulting in tumor spreading.
Blockade of CD39 may therefore stimulate anti-tumor immunity across a wide range of tumors by preventing the production of adenosine and by promoting the accumulation of ATP in the tumor microenvironment . OREGA Biotech’s program to develop a CD39-blocking antibody thus aims at restoring a pro-inflammatory micro-environment. It is currently in preclinical development.
Yannis Morel, Chief Business Officer of Innate Pharma, said: “CD39 is an exciting target to counteract the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment and may complement other therapies that act to boost anti-tumor activities of T cells and NK cells”. He added: “We are very pleased of the work we have done with OREGA Biotech. Their scientific expertise was key to this collaboration. It was a very efficient and successful way to advance this new first-in-class antibody program, which could become part of the next generation of checkpoint inhibitors. In the very competitive field of immuno-oncology, this kind of agreement is important to further strengthen our unique position in the field and our long term development perspectives”.
Jeremy Bastid, Chief Operating Officer of OREGA Biotech, added: “We are delighted to enter into this licensing agreement with Innate Pharma. The involvement of this pathway in human tumors is broad and we believe that this CD39-blocking agent could become a valuable immune checkpoint inhibitor in the future”. Gilles Alberici, Chief Executive Officer and cofounder of OREGA Biotech, further commented: “It is a major step forward for OREGA Biotech as it represents the accomplishment of our business model, which relies on our capacity to discover novel immune checkpoint inhibitors and partner early with larger biotech or pharma companies for the preclinical development. We have been impressed by Innate Pharma’s expertise and we are convinced that they will successfully bring this program to the clinic”.
Innate Pharma and OREGA Biotech will present data on this program at an upcoming scientific meeting.
Under the terms of the agreement, OREGA Biotech will receive undisclosed upfront payment, milestone payments for preclinical, clinical and regulatory achievements as well as royalties on net sales.