CRT and ADC Therapeutics partner on antibody drug conjugates

Friday, July 6, 2012 03:02 PM

Cancer Research Technology (CRT), the commercial arm of Cancer Research U.K., and Switzerland-based ADC Therapeutics have signed agreements to develop cancer treatments called antibody drug conjugates (ADCs) using CRT antibodies and peptides and ADCT's “warhead” and linker chemistries.

ADC Therapeutics will initially fund preclinical studies for the new ADCs in a range of cancer models in laboratories at Queen Mary, UCL (University of London) and King's College London. Deal terms are not disclosed, nor the cancer targets.

"We are very excited to see our potent PBD-based 'warheads' combined with CRT's leading tumor-targeting antibodies and peptides,” said Dr. Chris Martin, ADC Therapeutics’ collaboration manager, and CEO of Spirogen. “Together we are committed to faster and more efficient drug development, and have already commenced our preclinical work for these exciting programs. We believe this provides a very promising and rapid route to develop novel ADCs for cancer therapy and are very much looking forward to working in partnership with CRT."

ADCs combine the specificity of antibodies with novel “warhead” chemistries. The antibody component selectively targets the cancer cells to deliver tumor-destroying chemicals which are internalized into the cancer cell while avoiding damage to healthy tissue. Once inside the cancer cell, the linker degrades and the active toxin is released, binding to the cell's DNA and killing the cancer cell. ADC Therapeutics’ toxic chemicals interact with DNA without disrupting the double helix structure which avoids triggering DNA repair processes—with the prospect that this will prevent drug resistance.

"There's very promising evidence that ADCs could be an important new way to treat cancer. This is a particularly exciting time in this field, following the recent approval by the FDA for the first use of an ADC to treat lymphoma,” said Dr. Phil L'Huillier, CRT's director of business management. “This unique collaboration marries ADC Therapeutics’ targeted portfolio with CRT's access to world-class cancer research supported by [$517] million each year. We hope the collaboration will identify a range of ADCs that can be taken forward for development into innovative new ways to treat cancer and save lives.”

ADC Therapeutics' warheads are based on proprietary pyrrolobenzodiazepines (PBDs) technology developed by London-based Spirogen. In March 2012, ADC Therapeutics and Spirogen announced their partnership to develop proprietary ADC products. CRT holds the intellectual property rights to a range of tumor-targeting agents developed by Cancer Research U.K. scientists.

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