Covagen, a privately owned Swiss company developing bispecific FynomAbs by fusing its human Fynomer binding proteins to antibodies, resulting in therapeutics with novel modes-of-action and enhanced efficacy in the treatment of inflammatory diseases and cancer and Tanabe Research Laboratories U.S.A, Inc., a fully owned subsidiary of Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation, which focuses on the discovery and develop potential biological drug candidates for therapy, agreed to expanded their strategic research collaboration.

Fynomers® are small binding proteins that can be engineered to bind an antigen of interest. The ability to fuse Fynomers to multiple sites on an antibody allows Covagen to create FynomAbs with tailored architectures to maximize efficacy. Covagen is actively developing its internal lead bispecific anti-TNF/IL-17A FynomAb which is expected to move towards first-in-human studies in early 2014.

Based on the current success, Tanabe has nominated a first bispecific FynomAb for formal preclinical development which triggered an undisclosed milestone payment. Tanabe also exercised an option for a second bispecific FynomAb program based on the parties’ research and licensing agreement signed in October 2012. Under the agreement, Covagen will use its proprietary Fynomer-antibody platform to generate bispecific antibodies (FynomAbs) against a second target pair selected by  Tanabe.

“We believe Covagen’s FynomAb platform is a source of innovative bispecific antibodies with excellent biophysical properties that will allow more effective treatment of inflammatory and oncologic diseases,” said Roland Newman, Ph.D., chief scientific officer of TRL. “We look forward to continuing our cooperative work with the Covagen team as we advance the first FynomAb into preclinical development and look towards discovery of the second FynomAb as part of this expanded collaboration.”.

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Through payment of an undisclosed option fee, Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma secured global, exclusive rights to bispecific FynomAbs against a second target pair in oncology. Under the agreement, Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma will fund all research activities and be solely responsible for the development, manufacturing and global commercialization activities. Upon achievement of certain research, development and regulatory milestones, Covagen is entitled to receive payments of up to €108.25 million for the second program as well as tiered royalties on worldwide net sales of products resulting from the collaboration.

“The expansion of our collaboration with Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma provides substantial validation of Covagen’s bispecific FynomAb technology as we advance several therapeutic programs toward the clinic in 2014 and 2015,” said Julian Bertschinger, Ph.D., chief executive officer of Covagen.

Dragan Grabulovski, Ph.D., chief scientific officer of Covagen, added, “The expansion to a second bispecific FynomAb program is the result of the successful discovery and early preclinical development of the FynomAb from the original collaboration. This FynomAb was generated less than one year after initiating the joint research collaboration and showed excellent activity in pre-defined in vitro and in vivo studies. Our work with the Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma team has been extremely productive, and we are eager to continue development of both projects.”

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