Maverick Therapeutics, a private start-up biotechnology company that had been solely financed by MPM Capital when it was spun out of its former parent, Harpoon Therapeutics, and Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited announced today that they have entered a collaboration to further develop Maverick’s T-cell engagement platform created specifically to improve the utility of T-cell redirection therapy for the treatment of cancer. As part of the agreement, Takeda invests U.S. $125 million.
Maverick’s novel T-cell engagement format has the potential to eliminate the toxicity challenges inherent in the use of T-cell redirection therapy due to expression of the target antigen on normal tissue. The company’s therapeutic antibodies are designed to be inactive upon administration but fully active in the tumor microenvironment.
Collaborations are critical to helping us advance our aspiration of curing cancer. Working together with Maverick will enable us to leverage a potentially groundbreaking biologics platform to support Takeda’s goal of developing innovative, targeted therapies to treat people with cancer.
Takeda‘s U.S. $125 million of funding includes an upfront option, equity and research and development funding payments, and provides Takeda an exclusive option-to-acquire Maverick after five years for an undisclosed sum. Maverick was founded in 2016.
“We believe that this collaboration validates Maverick’s approach to T-cell engagement in the tumor microenvironment which we believe will allow us to address previously intractable oncology targets,” said Jeanmarie Guenot, Ph.D., Maverick’s co-founder (photo 1.0).
“Importantly, this strong collaboration should allow us to move rapidly to the clinic and address unmet needs in cancer immunotherapy,” Guenot explained.
“We see significant potential in Maverick to develop unique, small and customizable T-cell engagement therapeutics,” said Phil Rowlands, Interim Head, Oncology Therapeutic Area Unit, Takeda (photo 2.0)
“Collaborations are critical to helping us advance our aspiration of curing cancer. Working together with Maverick will enable us to leverage a potentially groundbreaking biologics platform to support Takeda’s goal of developing innovative, targeted therapies to treat people with cancer,” Rowlands added.
MPM’s BioVentures 2014 and the UBS Oncology Impact Fund, managed by MPM Capital, join Takeda in a $23 million Series B Financing as a key element of the financing package. Takeda will add a director to Maverick’s Board.
The management team of Maverick will be led by President and Chief Scientific Officer Hans-Peter Gerber, Ph.D. Before joining the Maverick team, Gerber where he was most recently Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer of Bioconjugates Discovery and Development at Pfizer’s Oncology Research Unit. Prior to this role, he held positions at Wyeth Discovery Research – subsequently acquired by Pfizer – and Seattle Genetics, where he was head of the Translational Biology Department and contributed to the development of therapeutic antibodies and antibody-drug conjugates.
Takeda signed agreements with Maverick Therapeutics through its wholly-owned subsidiary, Millennium Pharmaceuticals.
Collaboration with LegoChem
This week Takeda also signed a research agreement with South Korea-based LegoChem. This agreement gives Takeda access to the company’s firm’s proprietary antibody-drug conjugate technology ConjuAll™ for the evaluation of next-generation ADC candidates.
Under the terms of the agreement, the companies will focus on evaluating novel ADC candidates. Takeda will have an exclusive option to license global rights for the project results.
Yong Zu Kim, President & CEO of LegoChem Biosciences said, “We are delighted that Takeda has recognized the potential of our proprietary ADC technology to address unmet medical needs in the ADC field. Takeda is a desirable partner for LegoChem Biosciences as they have expertise and experience in the global commercialization of an antibody drug conjugate therapy.”
Jeiwook Chae, chief business development officer of LegoChem Biosciences, commented: “We strongly believe that our proprietary conjugation platform addresses significant unmet needs of current ADC technologies.”
LegoChem Biosciences focuses on the development of next-generation novel therapeutics utilizing its proprietary medicinal drug discovery technology LegoChemistry™ and ConjuAll™, a next-generation Antibody-drug conjugates development platform technology utilizing novel linker chemistry combined with site-specific enzymatic conjugation. Its platform provides solutions for site-specific conjugation, linker stability and efficient payload release which are three major unmet needs in ADC development.
Since its foundation in 2006, LegoChem Biosciences has focused on the research and development of ADC, antibiotics, anticoagulants and anticancer therapeutics based on proprietary platform technologies.
In October 2016, LegoChem Biosciences partnered with Nordic Nanovector to develop CD37-targeting ADCs for the treatment of leukemias.