Philogen, a Swiss-Italian clinical-stage biotechnology company based in Sienna, Italy, engaged in the discovery and development of novel biopharmaceutical products including antibodies and small molecule targeted therapies, announced that it has entered in an option and license agreement with Pfizer Inc. to develop and commercialize multiple ‘empowered antibodies’ or antibody-drug conjugates.

As part of their development strategy Philogen delivers bioactive agents such as cytokines, radionuclides or drugs to the site of disease using antibodies and ligands that specifically and efficiently target stromal antigens.  The company also focuses on the development of new biopharmaceuticals for the treatment of angiogenesis-related disorders.

At present, the company has four promising anti-cancer antibody derivatives and an antibody-derivative for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis in clinical studies.

Angiogenesis is a characteristic feature of a number of pathological conditions, including cancer, and Philogen is a pioneer in the isolation, engineering and clinical development of antibodies capable of targeting angiogenesis in vivo. The company has been the first in the world to demonstrate that human monoclonal antibodies (mAb), specific for a marker of angiogenesis, can efficiently and selectively target the tumor neo-vasculature both in animal models and in cancer patients.

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Pfizer agreement
Under the terms of the agreement with Pfizer, Philogen will develop and validate antibodies with precise specificity in a number of diseases characterised by angiogenesis. As part of the agreement, Pfizer has exclusive rights to pursue further development of specific antibody-drug conjugates and guided nanoparticles for which Pfizer will be responsible for ongoing research and development and potential commercialization.

‘’This new initiative combines Philogen’s validated antibodies with Pfizer’s extensive chemistry and clinical capabilities, and aims to accelerate the potential development of novel antibody-drug conjugates or ADCs into the clinic.” noted Duccio Neri, Philogen’s Co-founder and CEO. ‘’The industry is seeing mounting interest in ADC technologies, and this agreement with Pfizer underlines the significant potential of these compounds.”

‘’This agreement with Philogen reflects Pfizer’s commitment to partnerships that advance antibody-drug conjugate technology in ways that have the potential to accelerate the delivery of innovative new medicines to cancer patients,” said Robert Abraham, Ph.D., Senior Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer, Oncology Research Unit, Pfizer.

‘Armed antibody’
In January 2013, Philogen and Pfizer entered into an exclusive license agreement for  Dekavil (F8-IL10), under which Pfizer is exploring the activity of this trial drug for autoimmune diseases. Designed as an ‘armed antibody,’ Dekavil is composed of a vascular targeting antibody that selectively targets inflammatory disease sites in the body, coupled with the immunoregulatory cytokine interleukin 10 or IL-10 which has extensively been tested in Phase II clinical trials in chronic inflammation and has shown efficacy for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.[1][2][3][4]

Unlike traditional, non-conjugated agents that work by suppressing the immune system, Dekavil is believed to selectively modulate anti-inflammatory effects in the target area, sparing unwanted effects on other tissues and potentially restoring healthy immune function.  In clinical trials, the drug has demonstrated an impressive ability to selectively localize to arthritic sites in-vivo, potently inhibiting arthritic progression.

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