Boehringer takes up option on Oxford BioTherapeutics oncology target

Boehringer Ingelheim has exercised the option to pick up another oncology target discovered in its collaboration with Oxford BioTherapeutics. The decision marks the second time Boehringer has said yes to a cancer target resulting from the discovery and validation alliance it entered into with Oxford BioTherapeutics in 2013.

Oxford BioTherapeutics, which is based in the English city it is named after, discovered the oncology targets using its OGAP system, a technology that is underpinned by a database covering more than 5,000 cancer cell membrane proteins. OGAP, an acronym of Oxford Genome Anatomy Project, allows Oxford BioTherapeutics to pick out novel target antigens and analyze the extent to which they are overexpressed in cancer cells.

In doing so, Oxford BioTherapeutics thinks it can home in on antibody-drug conjugates that hit cancer cells while leaving healthy tissues unharmed, a claim that has been given a degree of validation by Boehringer’s continued interest in targets discovered by OGAP. “Their decision to exercise an option on a second target is a further significant endorsement of our unique OGAP discovery platform,” Oxford BioTherapeutics CEO Christian Rohlff said in a statement.

Having optioned the exclusive rights to the target, Boehringer will now take responsibility for future development of antibody products aimed at the antigen. Oxford BioTherapeutics is in line to receive developmental milestones as this process advances, as well as regulatory-related payouts and sales royalties if it gets that far. The revenue stream joins the proceeds from the first deal with Boehringer and a separate collaboration with Menarini on the list of sources of income at the company.

Oxford BioTherapeutics supplemented these sources with a $10 million (€9 million) loan from Silicon Valley Bank in July. The cash was earmarked for R&D activities, which include IND-enabling studies of an in-house lung cancer program.

- read the statement