Home Interviews Orion option exercise triggers milestone payment for Alligator

Orion option exercise triggers milestone payment for Alligator

AlligatorOrionMilestonePayment (1)

Orion option exercise triggers milestone payment for Alligator

2 May, 2024

The collaboration between Alligator Bioscience and the global pharma company Orion Corporation continues to bear fruit. Orion has chosen to exercise its option to develop new antibody cancer therapeutics leveraging Alligator’s antibody discovery technologies and RUBY bispecific format.

With this option exercise, we believe Orion has selected considerably differentiated bispecific antibodies that could lead to highly innovative treatments, says Alligator’s CEO Søren Bregenholt.

As Alligator Bioscience makes headways with the clinical development of its CD40 agonist mitazalimab in pancreatic cancer (read more), the company continues to deliver with its antibody discovery programmes.

RUBY – a novel bispecific antibody format

One of these is the bispecific antibody discovery technology RUBY.

According to Alligator, bispecific antibodies have emerged as the next generation of promising and efficient antibody drugs in cancer immunotherapy. They have the potential to be more tissue specific and have higher potency and efficacy compared to monoclonal antibodies.

RUBY is designed for easy generation of highly functional bispecific antibodies while overcoming some of the hurdles associated with current bispecific formats. This, in turn, leads to improved manufacturability and shorter development timelines. Therefore, RUBY enables Alligator to move promising drug candidates from the preclinical stage to the clinic faster. This gives the company a competitive edge in the immuno-oncology field by delivering pipeline leads at increased speed for successful out-licensing.

The technology was recently featured in the peer-reviewed journal “Mabs.”

Collaboration with Orion Corporation

A good example is Alligator’s collaboration with the global pharma company Orion Corporation, based in Finland. In 2021, Orion signed a collaboration and licensing agreement with Alligator to use RUBY for generating up to three development programmes. Under the initial terms of the collaboration, Orion selects the targets through its own design criteria, while Alligator employs its proprietary phage display libraries ALLIGATOR GOLD and ALLIGATOR Fab and the RUBY bispecific platform to develop the product candidates.

Orion selected lead antibodies from the first discovery programme in May last year, thus exercising its option to develop these molecules under the original terms of the agreement. Earlier in 2023, Alligator and Orion announced the expansion of the original agreement to include the development of a second bispecific antibody programme, which achieved a technical feasibility milestone in July the same year.

Last week, Alligator announced that Orion has selected the lead bispecific antibodies from that programme and is exercising its option to develop these molecules. The exercise of this development option triggers an undisclosed milestone payment to Alligator.

– Our research collaboration with Alligator has allowed us to identify again new lead molecules with potential to be selected for clinical development. It is fantastic to see how productive this collaboration is, said Outi Vaarala, Senior Vice President Innovative Medicines Business and R&D at Orion.

CTO insights

BioStock reached out to Alligator’s CTO Laura von Schantz to get her view on the news.

Laura, in your view, what are the ingredients that make this such a productive collaboration?

– In my view, the collaboration has been successful because Alligator’s expertise in antibody engineering and our bispecific platform are an excellent fit with Orion’s capabilities in identifying new innovative targets with high therapeutic potential. Reaching the level of expertise achieved by Orion and Alligator in our respective fields takes an incredible amount of time and resources. Joining forces on what we know and do best allow us to fast-track research and development, and to deliver potential drug candidates in the most productive manner. Beyond the drug candidates themselves, the collaboration also allows each team to gain from each other, strengthening the research capabilities and expertise of both partners.

Laura von Schantz, CTO Alligator Bioscience
Laura von Schantz, CTO Alligator Bioscience

With Orion exercising its option to develop new bispecific antibodies, can you tell more about how this will change the collaboration?

– By exercising the development option Orion assumes responsibility to drive the new drug candidates through the next steps in development, including manufacturing, IND enabling studies and clinical testing.

The agreement was expanded to include the development of a second bispecific antibody in January 2023. Can you comment on the speed at which this option exercise came?

– Orion exercised the development option for the first program and chose to expand the collaboration with a second program, while the first program was running at Alligator, which to me was a significant validation that Orion believes and wants to invest in the new bispecific antibodies and that the collaboration was valuable for Orion. This was highly encouraging and gave a quality stamp to our antibody engineering platform, and proof that we deliver on our promises.

Can you comment on the development of the first development programme initiated through this collaboration?

– I am excited about the prospects of the new bispecific antibody in the first development programme. This new candidate drug in the RUBY format will be the next generation of immunostimulatory drugs, and I strongly believe that it has the potential to benefit cancer patients across several indications.

The content of BioStock’s news and analyses is independent but the work of BioStock is to a certain degree financed by life science companies. The above article concerns a company from which BioStock has received financing.

Prenumerera på BioStocks nyhetsbrev