APEIRON Biologics AG, a company focused on cancer immunotherapy today announced the signing of an agreement with the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology GmbH (IMBA) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences and the Medical University of Vienna (MedUni Wien). The agreement grants APEIRON an exclusive worldwide license to a novel technology targeting casitas B cell lymphoma-b (Cbl-b).
Cbl-b is an intracellular checkpoint limiting the immune reactivity in various immune cells, such as T cells and NK cells, and was originally discovered by Dr. Josef Penninger, Scientific Director of IMBA (Nature 403; 211-6; 2000).
Inhibiting Cbl-b not only distinctly activates immune cells but offers the opportunity to deactivate other relevant checkpoints, including CTLA-4 and PD-L1/PD-1 and thus can be regarded as the “master checkpoint” in cancer immunotherapy. APEIRON is engaged in an innovative cellular immunotherapy project based on the knock-down of Cbl-b (APN401), which is currently in clinical development.
Scientists at IMBA, in cooperation with the Max F Perutz Laboratories of MedUni Vienna, recently discovered a further novel approach targeting Cbl-b by cell-permeable cbl-b inhibiting peptides, which was published in Nature Medicine (22: 915-923; 2016).
APEIRON has now licensed this promising new research technology from IMBA, to expand the Cbl-b based checkpoint blockade project portfolio. Under the terms of the agreement, APEIRON will be responsible for further preclinical and clinical development of this IMBA technology. IMBA and MedUni Vienna will receive an upfront payment and will be eligible to receive development, regulatory and commercialization milestone payments and royalties. Further financial terms were not disclosed.