Iovance Biotherapeutics has secured the licence to develop and commercialise IOV-3001, an antibody cytokine engrafted protein, from Novartis.

As agreed, the biopharmaceutical start-up will pay an upfront fee to Novartis for the licence.

Additionally, Novartis will be entitled to various low single-digit milestone payments and low-to-mid single-digit royalties from the commercial sales of IOV-3001.

Iovance president and CEO Maria Fardis said: “As we progress our development efforts to commercialise Tumour infiltrating lymphocyte (TIL), we continue exploring ways to optimise the TIL treatment regimen which includes administration of Interleukin-2 (IL-2).

“We, therefore, see a great strategic and long-term fit for Iovance to pursue the development of a targeted and selective IL-2 analogue with better pharmacokinetic properties.

“This product further adds to our research efforts in making safe and more potent TIL products with the potential opportunity for chronic administration.”

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IOV-3001 is an engineered IL-2 CDR graft that kills IL2R beta-gamma-expressing cells and restricts IL2R alpha-beta-gamma-dependent Treg activation.

Iovance noted that IOV-3001 has a better half-life and a superior safety profile compared to the side effects associated with IL-2 protein.

This year, Iovance will focus on GMP manufacturing of IOV-3001 with IND-enabling activities expected to begin next year.

Based in California, Iovance Biotherapeutics focusses on developing T cell-based cancer immunotherapies.

In May, the company announced plans to build a commercial-scale production facility in Philadelphia.

Upon opening, the facility will develop TIL cell therapy products for both clinical and commercial purposes.