Glythera taps Iontas for antibodies to guide next-generation ADCs

Glythera will pay milestones to Iontas as the ADCs advance down the pipeline.

Glythera has struck a deal to access a source of antibodies against specified targets. Iontas will use its phage display libraries and other antibody discovery capabilities to provide Glythera with a key component of its planned antibody drug conjugates (ADCs).

The companies will collaboratively choose and optimize the antibodies. Beyond that, Glythera has sole responsibility for development, manufacturing and potentially commercialization of the ADCs. The Newcastle, U.K.-based ADC specialist is committing to R&D milestones of undisclosed amounts for each antibody in return for Iontas’ contribution. 

Glythera is aiming to be ready to nominate its first clinical ADC candidate in 2019.

That milestone will move Glythera closer to finding out whether its ADC technology and Iontas’ antibody capabilities live up to expectations. Glythera is built on linker technology it thinks is more stable and specific than that used in maleimide-based ADCs. Such ADCs are an emerging part of the cancer-killing toolkit, but shortcomings such as instability and inefficient conjugation can affect their efficacy and tolerability.

Glythera developed its PermaLink technology in response to these issues. In in vivo tests, the linker technology improved tolerability by approaching 100% over maleimide-based ADCs, according to Glythera. The company also reported improved tumor responses. And it thinks the stability of its linker gives scope to further dial up ADCs’ cancer-killing power by opening the door to the use of more potent payloads. 

Dave Simpson, Ph.D., CEO at Glythera, thinks Iontas has similarly advanced technology. 

“We identified Iontas as the ideal partner for antibody discovery, due to their proprietary phage display technology and libraries, providing the potential for development of multiple antibodies,” Simpson said in a statement. 

Iontas’ business is built on its ability to screen large numbers of antibodies using phage display. In the case of the Glythera deal, the goal is to identify antibodies that hit targets relevant to certain difficult-to-treat tumors.