French Biotech Sanofi Tied with Asian Startup on Cancer Therapeutics
The agreement will gain Sanofi access to the 2013 founded startup Hummingbird’s proprietary- Rational Antibody Development platform which is an innovative approach towards identification of the functional antibodies which can be taken further for its development into the anti-cancer therapy. Financial details regarding the collaboration remained undisclosed.
The foundations of this platform are two technologies- mAbPredict™ for rapid identification of the potential target regions on a protein. mAbHITS™ for rapid production of fully human antibodies which could act on these potential target regions of the protein. This technology allows Hummingbird to gather all the structural and functional information of wide range of proteins and rapidly develop potential antibodies against them.
Sanofi’s passion towards development of cancer drugs is not new. Earlier this year, Sanofi signed a €1.2 billion deal with two biotech companies– Warp Drive Bio and Innate Pharma to fortify its oncology pipeline and to strengthen its presence in cancer research.
Sanofi’s prostate cancer drug Jevtana which was earlier nodded no by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) which scrutinizes the cost efficacy of the drug before its approval, received yes from NICE after it agreed for further discounts.
Hummingbird’s cancer pipeline includes- HMBD-001, it is in late preclinical development and expected to enter Phase I trial in early 2017. It targets cell surface protein (RTK) that is implicated in various adenocarcinomas. HMBD-002, it is in early preclinical development. It activates immune suppressor protein in hepatocellular carcinoma.
Hummingbird is funded by combination of private and public funding including a SPRING TECS proof-of- concept grant in Singapore. It has also collaboration with A*STAR and other research institutes of Singapore.
“We are delighted to work with the Hummingbird team to explore this highly innovative approach to developing therapeutic antibodies which potentially could significantly improve the time and cost of developing new biotherapeutics,” said Dr. Liang Schweizer, head of Asian Cancer Research at Sanofi. “This agreement underscores the enormous promise of highly novel and systems biology driven approaches for drug discovery and development.”
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