Lymphocyte, closeup view of T-cell or B-cell
Credit: Dr_Microbe/Getty Images

Pharma heavyweight AbbVie announced today that it will collaborate with clinical-stage biopharma company Immunome to discover as many as 10 novel oncology antibody-target pairs from three specified tumor types leveraging Immunone’s proprietary discovery platform.

The deal includes a $30 million up front payment from AbbVie, with the possibility of Immunome receiving as much as an additional $70 million in platform access payments should Abbvie continue to leverage the discovery platform. Immunome is also eligible to receive development and first commercial sale milestones of up to $120M per target with respect to certain products derived from target-antibody pairs that AbbVie elects to purchase, with potential for further sales-based milestones as well as tiered royalties on global sales.

“This collaboration with AbbVie, a true leader in the development and commercialization of oncology therapeutics, demonstrates the strength of Immunome’s Discovery Engine,” said Purnanand Sarma, PhD, president and CEO of Immunome. “AbbVie shares our vision of harnessing the power of the human immune response to yield novel and first-in-class therapeutics that represent a shift in the cancer discovery paradigm. This collaboration fits well within Immunome’s strategy to maximize the new drug discovery potential of our discovery engine through partnerships across multiple therapeutic segments, in addition to advancing our own proprietary pipeline.”

Immunome’s discovery engine seeks to identify therapeutic antibodies and targets using memory B cells and their response to disease which sees them produce specific, high-affinity antibodies that bind to cancer antigens or pathogens. According to Immunome: “The functional data we generate differentiates our approach from those that use deep sequencing of B cells to identify dominant clones that are common within and across patients and assumes genomic dominance is a hallmark of therapeutic utility.”

Immunome’s lead program in oncology is IMM-ONC-01 a soluble cytokine immune modulator that targets IL-38, a novel cancer target from the immune modulator cluster, identified by head and neck cancer patient antibody response. IL-38 has been shown to dampen immune response to tumors in preclinical testing and blocking IL-38 led to tumor control in preclinical in vivo testing in two different models, the company noted. Immunome anticipates filing an IND for IMM-ONC-01 by the middle of this year.

The company also has a three-antibody cocktail therapeutic that has completed Phase Ib against COVID-19 that showed no significant adverse events after the first dosing of patients and is actively seeking a development partner for this therapy.

For AbbVie, the Immunome collaboration provides yet another avenue for identifying and developing new therapeutics within what is an already robust oncology pipeline with more than 20 clinical studies underway across a broad array of hematological and solid tumor cancers.

“Partnering with Immunome represents AbbVie’s commitment to developing and commercializing novel treatment approaches for solid tumors,” said Steve Davidsen, PhD, vice president, oncology discovery research, AbbVie. “Immunome’s approach has the potential to unlock novel cancer biology and yield multiple therapeutic candidates. We look forward to utilizing their Discovery Engine to enhance our existing oncology pipeline.”

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