IRICoR, a pan-Canadian drug discovery research commercialization centre and the Université de Montréal (UdeM) announce today that they have entered into a research collaboration on novel cancer antigens for highly specific immunotherapies with MediGene, a clinical-stage immuno-oncology company focusing on the development of T cell immunotherapies.
UdeM’s research team, led by Drs. Claude Perreault and Pierre Thibault at the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC), will provide Medigene with tumor-specific antigens (TSAs) which they discovered using their proprietary platform, as novel targets for various cancer indications, particularly for solid tumors.
Under the terms of the agreement, Medigene will evaluate a number of proprietary TSA targets provided by UdeM through IRICoR, and will receive an option to exercise an exclusive and worldwide license to develop and commercialize T cell receptors (TCRs) against up to 5 of these novel cancer antigens. Upfront and near-term payments by Medigene to UdeM and IRICoR could potentially reach mid to high single-digit millions over the course of the next five years. Additionally, UdeM and IRICoR are eligible to receive development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments, along with tiered royalties, on a per target basis.
Dr. Nadine Beauger, Chief Executive Officer of IRICoR: “IRICoR is delighted to be a part of this new partnership. IRICoR believed in this project from the very beginning. Our initial funding and our support with respect to intellectual property helped develop a unique proteogenomic approach that led to the unprecedented discovery of TSAs potentially coded by all human genome sequences. These newly-discovered targets open countless avenues for more targeted cancer treatments for the benefit of patients worldwide.”
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Dr. Steven Klein, Vice-President, Business Development of IRICoR: “IRICoR has a strong track record of collaborating with international partners such as Medigene and negotiating the necessary agreements to ensure that these relationships are successful in transforming innovative technologies, such as the TSA platform, into new therapies.”
Dr. Michel Bouvier, Chief Executive Officer and Principal Investigator, IRIC; Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine, Université de Montréal: “UdeM and its researchers at IRIC are at the forefront of developing novel therapies for cancers with high unmet medical need. The exciting research of Drs. Perreault and Thibault is a concrete example of how world-class fundamental research carried out at IRIC can be translated into potential new therapies through the financial and business support of IRICoR. We look forward to a very fruitful collaboration between UdeM, IRICoR, and Medigene and to seeing these new T cell-based therapies reach patients who are in need of new therapeutic options.”
Prof. Dolores Schendel, CEO and CSO of Medigene AG: “The goal of immunotherapies is to fight cancer using the immune system. Medigene’s TCR-based therapies aim to modify the patient’s own T-cells so they can specifically recognize and eliminate tumor cells. It is essential that the immune system differentiates precisely between cancer cells and healthy tissue. The research work from UdeM on tumor antigens is fascinating and offers a broad and complementary development opportunity for Medigene’s TCR therapies. These TSAs are uniquely found in tumor cells but are not present in healthy tissue, and are therefore particularly interesting as targets for tailor-made immunotherapies. We believe that this cooperation could expand our portfolio with promising, novel targets that are solely expressed in cancer cells.”