Boehringer Ingelheim and Enara Bio announced that they have entered into a strategic collaboration and licensing agreement to research and develop novel targeted cancer immunotherapies, leveraging Enara Bio’s Dark Antigen discovery platform. The aim is to provide potential new therapies for patients with difficult to treat lung and gastrointestinal cancers.
Enara Bio’s proprietary Dark Antigen Platform Technology (EDAPT) will be used to discover and validate novel dark antigens in up to three tumour types in the lung and gastrointestinal cancer space. The discovery of shared antigens could lead to the development of vaccines that can be readily utilised to help a broader group of cancer patients.
Dark Antigens represent a new class of cancer-associated antigens that derive from the genomic dark matter or the portion of the human genome that is normally not expressed as protein. Dark Antigen-encoding sequences are usually silenced in healthy cells but are activated and presented on tumour cells. They are associated with specific cancer types and, importantly, are shared across patients. Since typically not visible to the immune system, they represent a large potential repertoire of novel antigens that can be developed as targets for new immunotherapies.
Under the agreement, Boehringer Ingelheim has the option to license dark antigens discovered and validated by Enara Bio. Boehringer Ingelheim will also be responsible for all non-clinical and clinical development, as well as commercialisation of associated cancer immunotherapies, including therapeutic vaccines and T-cell redirecting biologics. Enara Bio retains rights to use any discovered antigens for use in cell therapy-based products.
Enara Bio is eligible to receive an upfront payment, together with research/preclinical milestones and licensing fees for each tumour type that is explored. Enara Bio is also eligible to receive more than EUR 876 million in clinical, regulatory and commercial milestones, in addition to royalties on future product sales.