Biocytogen Pharmaceuticals shared plans for its new antibody evaluation and option agreement with Gilead Sciences.

In the deal, Gilead will gain access to Biocytogen’s fully human antibody library.

The agreement gives Gilead a three-year nomination period to choose its targets of interest and assess the selected antibodies, with the option of acquiring selected antibodies for worldwide therapeutic development.

Biocytogen owns four genetically engineered RenMice platforms for the discovery of multiple antibody types. This includes bispecific antibody-drug conjugates (ADC), TCR-mimic antibodies and more. As of June 2023, the China-based company was part of 50 therapeutic antibody and multiple clinical asset co-development, out-licensing and transfer agreements.

Earlier this year, Biocytogen partnered with Radiance Biopharma to share its bispecific ADC expertise. The company also signed deals with Ona Therapeutics in December 2023 and Myricx Bio in September 2023 to develop ADCs. This correlates with an uptick in high-value deals recently seen in the ADC space. A notable example of this is Amgen’s $2bn licensing agreement with the Netherlands-headquartered company Synaffix in January 2023.

ADCs are targeted therapies that deliver chemotherapy agents to cancer cells. The therapies bind to targets on the call, causing the release of a cytotoxic drug that kills the cancer cell. Biocytogen currently has four ADCs in its preclinical pipeline and one in the discovery phase.

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Gilead Sciences has similarly stepped into the ADC field in recent years, acquiring Immunomedics’ ADC, Trodelvy (sacituzumab govitecan-hziy) in a $21bn deal, in 2020. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave the therapy an accelerated approval in April 2020 for the treatment of adult patients with metastatic triple-negative breast cancer (mTNBC) who have received at least two prior therapies for metastatic disease. However, the FDA awarded Gilead full approval for the therapy in February 2023.

In the 19 February press release, Dr. Yuelei Shen, Biocytogen’s CEO said, “Our extensive library of RenMice-derived, fully human antibodies could serve as an important resource for Gilead to accelerate development of multiple novel antibody-based therapeutics to treat a variety of diseases.”