Abpro is partnering with China-based NJCTTQ to develop new bispecific antibodies using its antibody discovery platform. Under the agreement, Abpro could collect up to $4 billion, which includes $60 million in “near-term R&D funding,” as well as milestone payments and royalties.
Abpro will hold on to the rights for any drugs approved outside of China and Thailand, and NJCTTQ will retain the rights in China, Abpro said in a statement. The pair will use Abpro’s DiversImmune technology, one of two platforms the Massachusetts-based company uses to develop drug candidates. The company was vague about the targets of the collaboration, saying only that they would develop bispecific antibodies, such as T-cell engagers, for immuno-oncology.
“This collaboration further validates our platform’s unique ability to develop best-in-class bispecific T-cell engagers, with significant potential to treat patients living with cancer,” said Ian Chan, Abpro’s co-founder and executive chairman, in the statement. “NJCTTQ has substantial clinical development and commercialization expertise that is highly complementary to our immuno-oncology development platforms as we focus on broadening our pipeline and expanding our ability to treat more patients globally.”
"We intend to pursue additional similar development collaborations that leverage our innovative technology platforms and programs that include commercial rights in key global markets,” Chan added.
This isn’t the first time Abpro has tied up with a Chinese company. In 2016, Abpro signed a $3.5 million deal with Chinese biotech Essex Bio to co-develop monoclonal antibodies. Essex Bio, which specializes in recombinant DNA technology, would retain commercial rights in China, while Abpro would hold them for the rest of the world.
Abpro filed to raise up to $86 million in an IPO last April, hoping the proceeds would fund clinical trials of its lead antibodies for cancer and vascular eye disease in 2019. However, a month later, it put off the IPO, delaying a capital infusion it hoped would support the first clinical trials of those programs.