BioNTech buys MAB antibody unit to expand tech portfolio

BioNTech's headquarters
BioNTech's headquarters (BioNTech)

BioNTech is set to acquire MAB Discovery’s antibody generation unit. The deal will give the German mRNA specialist exclusive access to a unit it has worked with for the past five years.

When BioNTech needed a set of therapeutic antibodies in 2013, it teamed up with MAB. Four years later, BioNTech again turned to MAB to source another batch of antibodies against a different set of targets. The deals have forged ties between BioNTech and its compatriot MAB and given the mRNA player a close look at the merits of the rabbit-based antibody platform behind the collaborations.

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Now, BioNTech has decided it is best served by bringing the platform and the MAB team behind it in-house.

“Having exclusive access to MAB Discovery’s finely-tuned proprietary know-how dramatically expands BioNTech’s targeting ligand repertoire and enables us to directly, rapidly and efficiently produce new mAb candidates,” BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin said in a statement.

The takeover, financial details of which were not disclosed, will give BioNTech ownership of all the “assets, employees and proprietary know-how for mAb generation from MAB.” MAB will keep hold of all the rights to its proprietary preclinical development program and existing service agreements with third parties. 

Bringing the unit in-house adds another wing to BioNTech’s technology portfolio. BioNTech is best known as a rival to Moderna and CureVac in the mRNA space, but has expanded into other areas in recent years. The German biotech now boasts a portfolio that spans cell and gene therapies, protein therapeutics and small molecules, giving it multiple ways to go after cancers and other diseases. 

MAB’s antibody platform will slot in alongside technologies that power the other modalities. The platform uses wild-type rabbits to generate antibodies. MAB says the approach eliminates the need for affinity maturation and yields candidates with good drug-like characteristics.

BioNTech expects to take ownership of the unit by the end of the first quarter.

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