Anaptys picks up rival to Biogen autoimmune asset from Centessa

Biogen has a new rival for the BDCA2 space. AnaptysBio is picking up a distant potential challenger to the big biotech’s late-phase lupus candidate, paying Centessa Pharmaceuticals $7 million upfront for rights to a preclinical prospect that is still months away from being submitted for testing in humans. 

BDCA2 is expressed exclusively on plasmacytoid dendritic cells. By binding to the antigen, antibodies can suppress the production of type I interferon and, in theory, improve outcomes in patients with diseases driven by the cytokine. Biogen reported midstage data on its drug candidate, litifilimab, in systemic lupus erythematosus last year and is running a phase 3 trial in the indication.

Centessa picked up its BDCA2 program from Capella BioScience, one of the 10 biotechs it rolled up when it set up shop in 2021. Capella and Centessa have shared preclinical data on their lead BDCA2 candidate, CBS004, in systemic sclerosis, also known as scleroderma.

Rather than take CBS004 into the clinic, Centessa, which is dissolving Capella and other U.K. businesses, has decided to offload the program to Anaptys for $7 million upfront. The fee includes a one-time cash payment of $3 million for manufactured and released GMP supply of CBS004, now renamed ANB101.  A $10 million milestone payment, in either cash or shares, is tied to the start of the first phase 3 trial. 

In a statement, Anaptys CEO Daniel Faga outlined how ANB101 fits into the biotech’s strategy, explaining that it “specifically targets plasmacytoid dendritic cells, known to be key drivers of interferon secretion and antigen presentation” and complements its “immune cell modulators to drive differentiated clinical outcomes in systemic, heterogeneous autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.”

Anaptys is adding ANB101 to its list of candidates that are set to join its two lead programs in the clinic. The biotech plans to file to study its CD122 antagonist ANB033 in humans in the first half of next year. An IND filing for ANB101 is slated for the second half of 2024.

The candidates will sit alongside the PD-1 agonist rosnilimab and BTLA agonist ANB032 in Anaptys’ clinical-phase pipeline. Anaptys has started phase 2b trials of both candidates, in rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis and atopic dermatitis, in recent quarters, teeing up a series of data drops spanning from the end of next year through to the first half of 2026.

Anaptys reiterated its cash runway in the statement to disclose the licensing of ANB101. The biotech still expects its money to fund operations through the end of 2026, giving it a shot at generating clinical data that drives up its share price before needing to seek additional funding.