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Boehringer Ingelheim acquires Northern Biologics’ preclinical cancer antibody pipeline

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The acquisition provides assets targeting tumour stroma and myeloid cells

Boehringer Ingelheim has acquired Northern Biologics, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Northern LP. By acquiring this entity, which focuses on therapeutic antibodies targeting the tumour microenvironment, Boehringer Ingelheim is now positioned at the forefront of the stromal biology space – an emerging area in cancer immunology, informed a company release. The seller will retain the Northern Biologics name and its subsidiaries will continue to drive certain preclinical efforts on one of the programmes, while Boehringer Ingelheim will be responsible for clinical, regulatory and commercial development of the acquired programmes.

The total transaction includes an upfront payment, milestones and other consideration payments.

The first programme, now in late preclinical development, is an antibody inhibitor of Periostin, a secreted matricellular protein overexpressed in the immunosuppressive stroma microenvironment of many solid tumour types. Targeting these stromal cells can help turn previously ‘cold’ tumours – non-reactive, immunologically inactive tumours – to ‘hot’ tumours – those that are susceptible or accessible to host immune system attack. The antibody programme targeting Periostin has emerged as a promising therapy to overcome stromal mechanisms of immune exclusion and suppression.

The second programme targets a key regulator of myeloid cells that is important for enhancing anti-tumour T-cell function. Targeting myeloid cells is a focus area of research and clinical development for Boehringer Ingelheim and the acquired programme offers combination opportunities across Boehringer Ingelheim’s portfolio.

“This acquisition provides Boehringer Ingelheim with two complementary assets to our existing cancer immunology portfolio and supports our strategy to target ‘cold’ tumours with synergistic combination approaches,” said Jonathon Sedgwick, Senior Vice President and Global Head, Cancer Immunology & Immune Modulation Research, Boehringer Ingelheim

“We are grateful for this relationship with Boehringer Ingelheim, which accelerates these assets into the clinic,” said Philip Vickers, President and CEO of Northern Biologics.

Northern Biologics retains rights to its lead asset, MSC-1, an anti-LIF 1 antibody that recently successfully completed Phase 1 clinical trials.

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