Content - Japan's Ono looks to Swiss Numab for next discovery

  • April 04, 2017

Japan's Ono looks to Swiss Numab for next discovery

Tokyo (SCCIJ) - Numab Therapeutics AG from Pfäffikon, Switzerland, has entered a research and option agreement with Ono Pharmaceutical from Japan for the identification of a multi-specific antibody candidate for development in immuno-oncology using the Swiss company’s drug discovery platform. The Numab quest aims at a new, tailored antibody that would make a good combination drug with Nivolumab/Opdivo, the revolutionary anti-cancer medicine drug invented by Ono and marketed by Ono and Bristol-Myers Squibb. If successful, Numab will receive research funding and up to CHF 258 million in upfront and milestone payments plus tiered single to double digit royalties on sales.

Numab from Switzerland

New era in cancer treatment

“We are extremely pleased to start our collaboration with Ono, a company with a track record of scientific excellence and innovation, and that most recently made its mark by launching a new era in cancer treatment with the development of the first anti-PD-1 antibody, Nivolumab/Opdivo," said Oliver Middendorp, co-CEO of Numab.  

Hiromu Habashita, Executive Director of Discovery & Research of Ono, said: "Numab’s multi-specific antibody platform is robust, and optimized to reproducibly yield product candidates with outstanding binding properties. We believe it is ideally suited to fuel our immuno-oncology drug discovery and consequently a multi-specific antibody to be generated through this collaboration will provide hope to sufferers of cancer.”  

Multi-specific antibody platform

Under the agreement, Ono will obtain an option to acquire intellectual property rights to, and exclusive rights to develop and commercialize, the selected lead compound to be generated through this collaboration, which will exploit one of Ono’s novel therapeutic approaches in immuno-oncology.  

Numab will start this research work with a tech platform they built that isolates monoclonals identified in rabbits. They are humanized and a human variable domain scaffold is used to stabilize antibody fragments, which are then assembled in up to six pieces into one molecule with a unique mechanism, complex structures which Numab specializes in, reported the magazine endpoints news.  

Immune checkpoint inhibitor

Nivolumab (brand name outside of Japan) and Opdivo (brand name in Japan) is a programmed death-1 (PD-1) immune checkpoint inhibitor that is designed to uniquely harness the body’s own immune system to help restore anti-tumor immune response. By harnessing the body’s own immune system to fight cancer, Opdivo has become an important treatment option across multiple cancers.  

Opdivo was the first PD-1 immune checkpoint inhibitor to receive regulatory approval anywhere in the world in July 2014, and currently has regulatory approval in 60 countries including the United States, Japan, and in the European Union. The drug has become controversial due to its high costs. It also needs to be administered together with other drugs to increase its effectiveness.  

About Numab

Founded in 2011 and currently with 26 staffers, Numab develops a proprietary pipeline of multi-specific biotherapeutics in immuno-oncology and immunology, and has a number of discovery partnerships with pharmaceutical companies. Numab’s plug-and-play multi-specifics platform allows for a highly rational and reproducible process that rapidly yields promising clinical candidates with new mechanisms of action, superior efficacy and a favorable safety profile.  

About Ono Pharmaceutical

Ono Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., headquartered in Osaka, Japan, is an R&D-oriented pharmaceutical company committed to create innovative medicines in specific areas. It focuses especially on the oncology and diabetes areas. Founded originally in 1717 and incorporated 1947, with sales of more than JPY 160 billion (FY 2015), it employs more than 3,100 people on a consolidated basis.    


Text: SCCIJ based on Numab material; Photos: Numab

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