Earlier today, at the beginning of the pre-connect conference of the 7th World ADC Summit in San Diego, CA, Nordic Nanovector, a biotech company focusing on the development and commercialisation of novel targeted therapeutics in hematology and oncology, and LegoChem Biosciences, a South Korea-based biopharmaceutical company, confirmed their agreement to collaborate in developing novel CD37-targeting antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) for the treatment of leukemias. Leukemias are orphan diseases with a significant unmet medical need, representing a growing market estimated to be worth over US T$ 5 billion by 2024.

This collaboration supports Nordic Nanovector’s strategy to expand its pipeline of targeted therapies to include CD37-targeting antibody products conjugated to anti-cancer compounds that are not radionuclides. Such conjugates are commonly referred to as antibody-drug conjugates or ADCs.

Nordic Nanovector’s lead clinical-stage product opportunity is Betalutin®, the first in a new class of Antibody-Radionuclide-Conjugates or ARCs designed to improve upon and complement current options for the treatment of non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL).  NHL is an indication with substantial unmet medical need and orphan drug opportunities, representing a growing market worth over $12 billion by 2018.

The drug comprises an anti-CD37 antibody, lilotomab (previously referred to as HH1), conjugated to a low intensity radionuclide (lutetium-177). The preliminary data has shown promising efficacy and safety profile in an ongoing Phase I/II study in a difficult-to-treat NHL patient population. Nordic Nanovector is aiming at developing Betalutin® for the treatment of major types of NHL with first regulatory submission anticipated in 2019.

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LegoChem Biosciences is a biopharmaceutical company focusing on the development of next generation cancer therapeutics utilizing its proprietary, 2nd generation, antibody-drug conjugate development platform technology ConjuAll™.

The company’s ConjuAll™ technology utilizing novel linker chemistry combined with site-specific enzymatic conjugation. The platform provides solutions for site-specific conjugation, linker stability and efficient payload release, which are three major aspected in the development of  antibody-drug conjugates.

LegoChem has been successfully building ADC pipelines through rigorous partnership activities. In August 2015, LegoChem Biosciences signed a license and commercialization agreement with Fosun Pharma for the development of a HER2 targeting antibody-drug conjugate for the Greater China market and in 2012, the company licensed out its ADC platform technology to Green Cross, one of the leading biopharmaceutical companies in Korea for the development of a mesothelin-targeted ADC.

Expanding collaboration
“We are delighted to expand our R&D activities into the ADC area, a strategic and natural progression for us given our expertise in antibodies and the prevalence of the CD37 antigen on many tumour cell types. We believe that anti-CD37 ADCs will have clinical characteristics that are beneficial for treating a range of hematological malignancies,” noted Jostein Dahle, Nordic Nanovector’s Chief Scientific Officer.

“Our strategy to build a pipeline of innovative antibody-radionuclide conjugates (ARCs) and ADCs based on our expertise and platform, and in collaboration with expert partners such as LegoChem, is aimed at creating multiple new product opportunities bringing new targeted treatments to patients,” Dahle added.

“We are very excited to enter into this collaboration agreement to develop CD37-targeting ADCs with Nordic Nanovector, which has expertise with anti-CD37 antibodies and experience of advancing candidates into clinical research,”  said Jeiwook Chae, Chief Business Development Officer of LegoChem.

“We strongly believe that our proprietary conjugation platform addresses significant unmet needs of current ADC technologies. With Nordic Nanovector’s deep expertise in antibodies and commitment to develop novel therapeutics, we are confident that we will further enrich the pipeline of next-generation ADCs and achieve our goals of advancing the landscape of cancer treatment and providing new clinical options for cancer patients,” Chae further commented.

Under the agreement, Nordic Nanovector intends to retain marketing rights and to actively participate in the commercialisation of Betalutin® in core markets, while exploring potential distribution agreements in selected geographies. The Company is committed to developing its ARC pipeline to treat multiple selected cancer indications.

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