Boehringer Ingelheim announced today that it acquired Abexxa Biologics, a developer of precision medicines for treating cancer.
Acquiring Abexxa, which utilizes a new approach in immuno-oncology and oncology research, offers Boehringer Ingelheim access to the company’s expertise in targeting cancer-specific proteins located inside the cell instead of those expressed on the cell membrane, according to a news release.
The proteins targeted by Abexxa’s technology enlarges the pool of potential cancer antigen targets, which could lead to the development of cancer immunotherapies that are effective in a broader range of patients and cancer types, the company said.
“The acquisition of Abexxa bolsters our commitment to tumor-antigen discovery and new ways of targeting intracellular antigens. Their cutting-edge know-how and technologies for antigen discovery and novel antibody generation strongly complement the current approaches we have been applying successfully to enable immune-targeting of cancer cells,” Boehringer Ingelheim corporate SVP & global head of discovery research Clive R. Wood said in the release. “By expanding our portfolio of antibodies binding novel intracellular tumor antigens, we are striving to develop unique and broadly applicable new immunotherapeutic approaches for cancer patients.”
Abexxa’s platform recognizes the presentation on the cell surface by MHC class 1 molecules and, while its platform addresses the more common HLA-A2 peptide presentation, it has developed ways to potentially address a broader set of cancer patients’ antigens. The company developed a first-in-class T-cell receptor (TCR)-like antibody that can be used to disrupt the NKG2A;HLA-E immune checkpoint access in oncology.
The companies have had a relationship since 2016, when Boehringer Ingelheim’s venture fund awarded initial investment funding.
“The investment by Boehringer Ingelheim’s Venture Fund in 2016 was a defining moment for Abexxa,” Abexxa co-founder & CEO Debra Wawro Weidanz said.
“The acquisition by Boehringer Ingelheim allows our team to access the company’s expertise and capabilities in immuno-oncology and antibody development and to have the opportunity to translate Abexxa technology into a clinical asset,” co-founder & CSO Jon Weidanz added.
The total transaction includes an upfront payment, milestones and other consideration payments, Abexxa will continue its operations in the Arlington, Texas, area as a Boehringer Ingelheim family company, collaborating with colleagues at Boehringer Ingelheim’s U.S. research site in Ridgefield, Connecticut.
Filed Under: Drug Discovery, Drug Discovery and Development, Immunology, Oncology