Vaccinex and Catalent Biologics to Collaborate on Antibody-Drug Conjugate Development

Catalent Pharma Solutions & Vaccinex, Inc. have announced an agreement to develop an antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) using Catalent’s proprietary SMARTag® conjugation platform and GPEx® cell line engineering technologies, and Vaccinex’s proprietary ActivMAb® technology.

The collaboration will focus on developing the ADC against an undisclosed cancer target.

Catalent and Vaccinex will evaluate the ADC in various preclinical models and move it into cell line and process development, utilizing Catalent’s proprietary GPEx technology and development and manufacturing capabilities at its state-of-the-art Madison, Wisconsin facility.

“Vaccinex is excited to partner with Catalent Biologics to develop this novel antibody-drug conjugate for the treatment of cancer. We feel that by combining an ActivMAb antibody with Catalent’s SMARTag conjugation technology, we can generate a unique, differentiated molecule to treat cancers overexpressing this particular target,” commented Raymond E. Watkins, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Vaccinex.

“We are delighted to partner with an innovative company like Vaccinex to develop a product that has the potential to deliver better outcomes for patients,” added Mike Riley, Vice President & General Manager of Catalent Biologics. “The opportunity to leverage these complementary technology platforms provides great promise to produce a differentiated ADC product.”

Catalent’s proprietary SMARTag site-specific protein-modification and linker technologies were developed to enable the generation of homogenous bioconjugates engineered to enhance potency, safety and stability. The technology employs natural post-translational modifications found in human cells to create “chemical handles” at predetermined sites on protein molecules. These sites can then be stably chemically conjugated to many different payloads. The control afforded by the technology enables identification of superior drugs from libraries of differentially designed conjugates. The GPEx technology creates stable, high-yielding mammalian cell lines with high speed and efficiency. To date, eight GPEx-based antibody and protein products are approved and marketed, and over 45 therapeutic candidates are currently in the clinic across the world.

ActivMAb is Vaccinex’s antibody discovery and optimization platform. It combines the advantages of both viral panning and cell sorting to enable the efficient identification of high-affinity, fully human antibodies from antibody libraries expressed in mammalian cells. A fusion protein of immunoglobulin heavy chain with a vaccinia membrane protein (Ig-VMP) has been developed that enables efficient expression on the surface of vaccinia virus, an enveloped mammalian virus, as well as on the surface of the infected cell.

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