UK biotech Bicycle Therapeutics will collaborate with Genentech, now part of the Roche Group, to develop novel cancer immunotherapies and take them to market.
Genentech will pay €28M upfront to Bicycle, but if discovery, regulatory and commercial milestones are met then the deal could be worth up to €1.6B for the Cambridge-based company.
Bicycle’s technology was developed by its founder and Nobel Prize winner Gregory Winter. The therapy can be highly targeted and comprises conjugate molecules with three separate parts: a ‘bicycle’ that can recognize the target tumor, a ‘linker’ that initially keeps the molecule inert but breaks down when the therapy reaches the tumor, and a toxin designed to kill the cancer cells.
The company has three Bicycle conjugate candidates that it is developing to target a variety of cancers. The most advanced of these is targeting a protein called Membrane Type 1 Matrix Metalloproteinase and is being tested at phase I/IIa in patients with solid tumors. Bicycle Therapeutics has also used its technology to design bicycle-based therapies to activate cytotoxic T-cells in the immune system and trigger them to attack cancerous tumors, although this work is still at the preclinical stage.
The collaboration will combine Bicycle’s technology platform with Genentech’s broad knowledge of immuno-oncology and drug targets. The UK company also hopes to benefit from Genentech’s commercialization experience to take successful therapies developed during the partnership to market.
“Our collaboration with Genentech recognizes the potential of Bicycle’s differentiated technology, which allows us to specifically direct immune cell stimulators and other payloads to tumors in a highly targeted manner,” said Kevin Lee, CEO of Bicycle Therapeutics. “In addition, the flexibility of the Bicycle platform enables rapid exploration of structure-activity relationships to fully optimize candidate molecules.”
Bicycle will focus on early-stage development — discovery and preclinical testing — of bicycle-based immunotherapies targeting a range of cancers. Genentech will take over development and commercialization of the candidate therapies once they get beyond the preclinical stage, although Bicycle will be entitled to a share of the royalties from any co-developed therapies that reach the market. All therapies developed in this partnership will be new and none of Bicycle’s existing oncology pipeline will be included in the deal.
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