Pierre Fabre pens oncology pact with atomic energy spinout

Pierre Fabre has teamed with an immuno-oncology spinout from the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) to run drug discovery projects. The deal with H-Immune gives Pierre Fabre access to technology for generating fully human monoclonal antibodies.

Paris, France-based H-Immune will work with Pierre Fabre to apply its in vitro immunization technology to three immuno-oncology drug discovery programs. In return, Pierre Fabre will cover the cost of R&D and make milestone payments to H-Immune. Pierre Fabre also plans to provide expertise to H-Immune, a benefit it has talked up since it set up the innovation fund H-Immune is working with last year.

The creation of Pierre Fabre’s fund predates the existence of H-Immune, which registered as a company late last year. H-Immune attracted the interest of Pierre Fabre on the strength of its in vitro immunization technology, which it thinks can leverage B lymphocyte affinity maturation processes to generate antibodies against all the binding sites of a particular target.

In vitro immunization is a long-discussed concept. The European Union funded development of methods for in vitro immunization of human B lymphocytes in the mid 1990s. That project, like others involving teams around the world that both preceded it and came after it, sought to generate human monoclonal antibodies with the desired specificity and affinity to a particular antigen.

A team at CEA continued to work on the idea, resulting in the publication of a paper looking at the potential to use in vitro immunization to trigger an immunoglobulin G antibody response against NY-ESO-1, a human tumor antigen.

One of the authors of that paper, Michel Léonetti, Ph.D., founded H-Immune with Luc Boblet, Ph.D., the former CEO of pathogen testing company PathoQuest. Boblet has taken on the CEO position at H-Immune and plans to strike multiple industry partnerships.

“Pierre Fabre is an ideal partner for H-Immune to help us begin to realize the full potential of our science and IVI technology which we plan to exploit through multiple industry partnerships,” Boblet said in a statement. “This collaboration is designed to catalyze and create tremendous ongoing scientific and product development synergy by leveraging each company’s strengths and assets.”