MD Anderson and Affimed Announce Clinical Immuno-Oncology Development Collaboration

Agreement brings together MD Anderson’s natural killer cell and Affimed’s antibody-based technologies

Article ID: 667114

Released: 3-Jan-2017 5:00 PM EST

Source Newsroom: University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center

  • Credit: MD Anderson Cancer Center

    Katayoun Rezvani, M.D., Ph.D.

  • Credit: MD Anderson Cancer Center

    Elizabeth Shpall, M.D.

Newswise — The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and Affimed N.V., a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company focused on discovering and developing highly targeted cancer immunotherapies, today announced an exclusive strategic clinical development and commercialization collaboration to evaluate Affimed’s TandAb technology in combination with MD Anderson’s natural killer cell (NK) product.

NK-cells are white blood cells that monitor the body for infected and cancerous cells. The technology to grow NK-cells from umbilical cord blood was developed at MD Anderson.

This collaboration will leverage MD Anderson’s expertise in NK-cells and translational medicine and Affimed’s capabilities to develop tumor-targeting bispecific TandAb immune cell engagers.

“In our effort to broaden the applications of our NK-cell engager products, we are excited to partner with the world-leading NK-cell experts at MD Anderson to investigate their unique product together with our first-in-class NK-cell engager AFM13 in Hodgkin lymphoma,” said Adi Hoess, Ph.D., CEO of Affimed. “Harnessing the advantages of both antibody-based and cell therapy approaches has the potential to better exploit the therapeutic activity of NK-cells. We believe this partnership could benefit many hematological malignancies, including in multiple myeloma, where Affimed is developing AFM26, a BCMA/CD16A bispecific antibody. For us, this partnership is an important step in executing our strategy to develop transformative cancer therapies.”

Collaborative studies will research, develop, and eventually commercialize novel oncology therapeutics resulting from this combination of products. MD Anderson will be responsible for conducting preclinical research activities aimed at investigating its NK-cells derived from umbilical cord blood in combination with Affimed’s lead NK-cell engager, the CD30- and CD16A-targeting TandAb AFM13. These are intended to be followed by a Phase 1 clinical trial. Affimed will fund research and development expenses for this collaboration and the agreement includes a provision for the potential expansion of the partnership. Affimed holds an option to exclusive worldwide rights to develop and commercialize any product developed under the collaboration.

“We look forward to joining the cord blood-derived NK-cells developed at MD Anderson with our collaborator’s technology which we believe will benefit our patients,” said Katayoun Rezvani, M.D., Ph.D., professor of Stem Cell Transplantation and Cellular Therapy at MD Anderson.

AFM13 is a bispecific NK-cell TandAb simultaneously targeting CD16A on NK-cells and CD30 on tumor cells. AFM13 is designed to treat CD30-positive malignancies including Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) and T-cell lymphoma (TCL) and is currently in Phase 2 development in HL patients. Based on its safety profile, AFM13 is being developed both as monotherapy and in combination with other therapeutics such as Merck’s checkpoint inhibitor KEYTRUDA®.

Elizabeth Shpall, M.D., professor of Stem Cell Transplantation and Cellular Therapy at MD Anderson, and Rezvani’s co-leader on the project, believes the collaboration “holds true potential to produce a novel cellular therapeutic for the treatment of high-risk Hodgkin lymphoma.” About Affimed N.V.Affimed engineers targeted immunotherapies, seeking to cure patients by harnessing the power of innate and adaptive immunity (NK- and T-cells). We are developing single and combination therapies to treat cancers and other life-threatening diseases.


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