Medigene AG , a clinical-stage immuno-oncology company focusing on the development of T cell immunotherapies, announces that it has entered into a research collaboration on novel cancer antigens for highly specific immunotherapies with the Universite de Montreal (UdeM) and IRICoR, a pan-Canadian drug discovery research commercialization center. UdeM’s research team, led by Drs. Claude Perreault and Pierre Thibault at the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC), will provide Medigene with tumor-specific antigens (TSAs) which they discovered using their proprietary platform, as novel targets for various cancer indications, particularly for solid tumors.
Under the terms of the agreement, Medigene will evaluate a number of proprietary TSA targets provided by UdeM through IRICoR, and will receive an option to exercise an exclusive and worldwide license to develop and commercialize T cell receptors (TCRs) against up to 5 of these novel cancer antigens. Upfront and near-term payments by Medigene to UdeM and IRICoR could potentially reach mid to high single-digit millions over the course of the next five years. Additionally, UdeM and IRICoR are eligible to receive development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments, along with tiered royalties, on a per target basis.
Prof. Dolores Schendel, CEO and CSO of Medigene AG: “The goal of immunotherapies is to fight cancer using the immune system. Medigene’s TCR-based therapies aim to modify the patient’s own T cells so they can specifically recognize and eliminate tumor cells. It is essential that the immune system differentiates precisely between cancer cells and healthy tissue. The research work from UdeM on tumor antigens is fascinating and offers a broad and complementary development opportunity for Medigene’s TCR therapies. These TSAs are uniquely found in tumor cells but are not present in healthy tissue, and are therefore particularly interesting as targets for tailor-made immunotherapies. We believe that this cooperation could expand our portfolio with promising, novel targets that are solely expressed in cancer cells.”
Dr. Nadine Beauger, Chief Executive Officer of IRICoR: “IRICoR is delighted to be a part of this new partnership. The foundational funding provided by IRICoR to develop this unique proteogenomic approach led to the unprecedented discovery of human TSAs coded by potentially all genomic regions using high-throughput mass spectrometry. These newly-discovered targets open countless avenues for more targeted cancer treatments for the benefit of patients worldwide.”
Dr. Steven Klein, Vice-President, Business Development of IRICoR added: “IRICoR has a strong track record of collaborating with international partners such as Medigene and negotiating the necessary agreements to ensure that these relationships are successful in transforming innovative technologies, such as the TSA platform, into new therapies”.
Michel Bouvier, Chief Executive Officer and Principal Investigator, IRIC; Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine, Université de Montréal: “UdeM and its researchers at IRIC are at the forefront of developing novel therapies for cancers with high unmet medical need. The exciting research of Drs. Perreault and Thibault is a concrete example of how world-class fundamental research carried out at IRIC can be translated into potential new therapies through the financial and business support of IRICoR. We look forward to a very fruitful collaboration between UdeM, IRICoR, and Medigene and to seeing these new T cell-based therapies reach patients who are in need of new therapeutic options.”
About UdeM TSAs
A key role of T lymphocytes is to act as extrinsic tumor suppressors and thereby mediate “cancer immunosurveillance”. Tumor-specific Antigens (TSAs) can be targeted for T-cell based cancer immunotherapy. TSAs are truly cancer-specific and immunogenic because their presence is induced by cancer-specific somatic mutations. In two murine cancer cell lines and seven human primary tumors, Drs. Perreault and Thibault identified a total of 40 TSAs, about 90% of which derived from allegedly noncoding regions and would have been missed by standard exome-based approaches. Moreover, most of these TSAs derived from nonmutated yet aberrantly expressed transcripts (such as endogenous retroelements) that could be shared by multiple tumor types.
Laumont et al. “Noncoding regions are the main source of targetable tumor-specific antigens” Science Translational Medicine 05 Dec 2018:Vol. 10, Issue 470, eaau5516
Designated as a Centre of Excellence in Research and Commercialization (CECR) by the Canadian government, IRICoR is a project maturation cluster in the field of drug discovery based at the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC) of the Université de Montréal. IRICoR’s mandate is to accelerate the discovery, development, and commercialization of novel therapies in cancer, immunotherapy, and related fields. Since 2008, IRICoR has been successfully investing in and supporting selected cutting-edge projects in order to rapidly translate early-stage innovation into potential new therapies, through either co-development partnerships with the biopharmaceutical industry or the creation of spin-off companies. IRICoR seamlessly integrates its business-related expertise with access to industry-level drug discovery capabilities, providing selected academic and industry projects with access to its network of experts and cutting-edge infrastructure, including one of the largest academia-based medicinal chemistry groups in Canada.
For more information about IRICoR: www.iricor.ca
About the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC) of the Université de Montréal
An ultra-modern research hub and training centre located in the heart of the Université de Montréal, the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer of the Université de Montréal was created in 2003 to shed light on the mechanisms of cancer and discover new, more effective therapies to counter this disease. The IRIC operates according to a model that is unique in Canada. Its innovative approach to research has already led to discoveries that will, over the coming years, have a significant impact on the fight against cancer.
For more information: www.iric.ca
Medigene AG is a publicly listed, clinical-stage biotechnology company headquartered in Martinsried near Munich, Germany. The Company is developing highly innovative immunotherapies to target various forms and stages of cancer. Medigene concentrates on the development of personalized T cell-based therapies, with associated projects currently in pre-clinical and clinical development. Read more about Medigene’s company profile: https://www.medigene.com