Sorrento Therapeutics Form LA Cell
News Sep 29, 2015
LA Cell has exclusively licensed technology developed at City of Hope that enables modified monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) to penetrate into cells and target "undruggable" disease-causing molecules.
To date, existing antibody-based therapies have benefited millions of people worldwide, but have nonetheless been limited by their inability to reach proteins inside cells, where most disease-causing proteins are located. The City of Hope technology, which was developed in the laboratory of Hua Yu, Ph.D., Billy Wilder Endowed Professor and Co-Leader of the Cancer Immunotherapeutics Program, and Andreas Herrmann, Ph.D, Associate Research Professor, overcomes this limitation, potentially enabling a wave of new therapeutics for treatment of cancer and other life-threatening diseases.
The technology is based on a proprietary chemical modification of mAbs that allows them to enter a cell's cytoplasm and nucleus while maintaining their ability to target specific proteins. The total deal value is in excess of $170 million for the development of these modified mAbs and includes an equity provision as well as upfront and milestone payments to City of Hope.
"City of Hope has a rich history of developing industry-changing biopharmaceutical technologies, including, most notably, the fundamental technology required for mammalian cell-based antibody production, as captured in the Cabilly patent estate," said Steven T. Rosen, M.D., Provost and Chief Scientific Officer of City of Hope. "This novel method to enable cell penetration of mAbs could be transformative for the field of biomedical research. More important, it could benefit patients worldwide who are in need of new and effective therapies. The ability to harness the inherent target specificity of antibodies against disease-causing molecules inside the cell could lead to the next generation of therapies against most severe diseases."
Added George Megaw Ph.D., Director of the Office of Technology Licensing within the Center for Applied Technology at City of Hope: "We are excited to work with Sorrento, a leader in the antibody therapeutics space. The newly formed company, LA Cell, combines our cell-penetrating technology with Sorrento's fully human antibody library and immunotherapy expertise to enable the development of effective antibody therapies against crucial yet elusive intracellular targets."
Utilizing mAbs derived from Sorrento's antibody portfolio, LA Cell is positioned to develop therapies against important oncology targets, including but not limited to c-MYC, mutated KRAS, STAT3, and FoxP3. Notably, this technology can also be applied to medically-relevant targets in other indications, such as inflammation, auto-immune disorders, diabetes, central nervous systems (CNS), cardiovascular diseases and viral infections.
"We are honored to join forces with the team at City of Hope. We believe their technology to be truly groundbreaking and potentially represents one of the last frontiers for the development of antibody therapies," said Henry Ji, Ph.D., President and CEO of Sorrento. "With the formation of LA Cell, Sorrento believes it has added the last missing piece in our antibody technology portfolio. We can now develop a breadth of antibody-based therapies that is unrivaled, such as intracellular antibodies, immune-checkpoint inhibitors, bispecific antibodies, antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs), as well as chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-based cellular therapies. Sorrento will no longer be restricted by the antigen location for its antibody-based therapeutics and LA Cell will be able to develop a brand new class of cell-penetrating antibodies for undruggable yet most important disease targets residing within the cells. We anticipate multiple strategic alliances and licensing opportunities with biopharmaceutical partners for major disease indications."