December 11, 2014, New York, NY—Ludwig Cancer Research announced today an agreement with Agenus that grants the Lexington, MA-based biotechnology company exclusive license to further develop and commercialize antibodies against three molecules—GITR, OX40 and TIM3—that play distinct and important roles in immune cell regulation and have been identified and assessed as drug targets by Ludwig researchers. Antibodies that activate GITR and OX40 or block TIM-3 have been shown to induce potent anti-tumor immune responses in preclinical studies and could prove to be important anti-cancer immunotherapies.
Under the terms of the agreement, Agenus acquires a license to the antibodies and takes full responsibility for the costs of their development. Ludwig will receive an upfront license fee, development and commercial milestone fees and royalties from future net sales of the antibodies.
“Agenus has committed to advancing these therapies and bringing them to patients as quickly as possible,” said Jonathan Skipper, Ludwig’s Executive Director of Technology Development. “Our preclinical studies suggest that they have the potential to be highly effective treatments for a variety of cancers.”
The antibodies were initially developed by Ludwig and 4-Antibody (4AB), which signed a collaborative R&D agreement with Ludwig in 2011 to develop immune-modulating antibodies using its technology for generating fully human therapeutic antibodies. Ludwig’s role in that partnership was the functional evaluation of those antibodies for their biological effects and ability to stimulate anti-tumor immune responses. 4AB was acquired by Agenus in February, 2014.
The antibodies covered by the current agreement are novel candidates in a class of drugs known as “checkpoint modulators” that have generated considerable excitement in oncology. As announced in March, GITR agonist antibodies were advanced into preclinical development, together with another checkpoint modulator—an anti-CTLA-4 antibody—that was also discovered and initially developed by Ludwig and 4AB.
About Ludwig Cancer Research
Ludwig Cancer Research is an international collaborative network of acclaimed scientists that has pioneered cancer research and landmark discovery for more than 40 years. Ludwig combines basic science with the ability to translate its discoveries and conduct clinical trials to accelerate the development of new cancer diagnostics and therapies. Since 1971, Ludwig has invested more than $2.5 billion in life-changing science through the not-for-profit Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research and the six U.S.-based Ludwig Centers.