Roche bags anti-cancer bispecific from GO Therapeutics

The Roche Tower (Roche)

Roche has licensed an anti-cancer bispecific antibody from GO Therapeutics. The deal gives Roche a license for antibodies generated against a novel cancer target and the right to develop a bispecific antibody.

Massachusetts-based GO is built around a glycoprotein targeting platform it thinks can create more targeted immunotherapies. GO seeks out sites of O-linked glycosylation on target proteins and uses them as the basis for antibody-drug conjugates, bispecific T-cell engagers and cell therapies that zero in on tumors while ignoring healthy tissue. 

GO is still a long way from showing its platform can deliver on that promise. But, after raising $5 million from Salubris Pharmaceutical in September, the biotech now has the validation of a deal with a Big Pharma.

Roche is paying $9 million in an upfront fee and near-term milestones for the worldwide rights to GO’s bispecific. As the drug advances, GO is in line to pocket up to $186 million more in milestones and royalties that could rise to the low double-digit range. GO expects Roche to move the drug into the clinic in 2020, the Boston Business Journal reports

The fate of the drug will provide clues about GO’s prospects. If effective, GO’s platform will generate drugs that lessen the off-target effects that dog existing immuno-oncology agents.

“GO's glycoprotein targeting platform opens an exciting class of tumor-specific antigens that can help widen the therapeutic window for cancer therapies such as T-cell bispecific antibodies, CAR-T and ADCs,” GO CEO Constantine Theodoropulos said in a statement. “Preclinical data show GO’s approach can provide superior specificity in targeting solid tumors over normal tissue, and demonstrate clean in-vivo toxicity profiles in the context of potent immunotherapies.”

A previous iteration of the company, known as GlycoZym, explored the diagnostic potential of GO’s science. GO pivoted in 2014, taking on a new name and management that has led a tiny team to the deal with Roche.