Ipsen and Marengo Therapeutics partner to push immuno-oncology candidates into the clinic

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Ipsen and Marengo Therapeutics, Inc. have announced a strategic partnership to advance two of Marengo’s preclinical STAR platform-generated candidates into the clinic. 

Ipsen also announced it is exercising its option to acquire exclusive worldwide rights to an investigational ERK (extracellular signal-regulated kinase) inhibitor, discovered by AGV Discovery.

Ipsen and Marengo Therapeutics details

The collaboration between Ipsen and Marengo will leverage Marengo’s R&D expertise of a novel mechanism of T cell activation with Ipsen’s global oncology footprint for clinical development and commercialization.

Under the terms of the agreement, Ipsen will make an upfront payment of $45 million, together with potential payments up to a total of $1.592 billion if all milestones are met in addition to tiered sales royalty payments. 

Marengo will lead the preclinical development efforts and will expense related costs until the submission of an Investigational New Drug (IND) application to the U.S. FDA. Ipsen will assume responsibilities for clinical development and commercialization.

Collectively, the Ipsen and Marengo teams have a track record of oncology-medicine development and commercialization to maximize the potential of candidates across a large range of cancer indications.

Transformative medicines

“Marengo’s foundational discovery of activation of T cell subsets via TCR Vβ is unprecedented and highly differentiated from the current immuno-oncology technologies we have seen,” said Howard Mayer, executive vice president and head of R&D at Ipsen. 

“This partnership with Marengo provides a strong foundation for a productive and successful collaboration as we embark on a journey to develop novel and durable therapies that will strengthen our oncology pipeline and further enhance our commitment to people living with cancer.”

“Our strategic partnership with Ipsen underscores our shared ambition to develop transformative medicines for people fighting cancer,” said Zhen Su, CEO of Marengo Therapeutics. 

“Marengo brings a precision medicine approach to the field of Immuno-oncology with a focus on T cell activation and this collaboration is an important validation of our STAR platform beyond our lead candidate. Together this partnership is a demonstration of the strong progress and promise of our innovative scientific platform.”

ERK inhibitor

Ipsen also exercised its option to acquire exclusive worldwide rights to an investigational ERK inhibitor, discovered by AGV Discovery.

The decision follows the successful achievement of a key developmental milestone and is the result of a research collaboration and option agreement between the companies, established in September 2020.

“We were encouraged by the early pre-clinical data and are excited to support the ongoing development of this promising therapeutic candidate,” said Christelle Huguet, senior vice president, head of research, external innovation and early development at Ipsen.  

“We look forward to advancing the science that we hope can one day deliver new, innovative treatments for cancer patients with high unmet needs across a range of different tumor types.”

Cédric Bories, president of AGV Discovery, said, “I am happy and proud to officially extend our collaboration with Ipsen.  It represents a great opportunity to demonstrate our capabilities and have our asset grow, under the guidance of this innovative pharmaceutical company.”

About Ipsen 

Ipsen is a global, mid-sized biopharmaceutical company focused on transformative medicines in oncology, rare disease and neuroscience. 

Ipsen sells medicines in more than 100 countries and has facilities in Paris-Saclay, France; Oxford, U.K.; Cambridge, U.S.; and Shanghai, China. Ipsen has around 4,500 staff worldwide. 

About Marengo Therapeutics

Marengo Therapeutics, develops therapeutics that activate the right immune response to promote lifelong protection against cancer. 

 Marengo’s Selective T Cell Activation Repertoire (STAR) platform is a multi-specific fusion protein library that targets specific TCR Vβ variants fused to different co-stimulatory moieties to develop potent T cell activators. 

The feature of this platform is to fine-tune the T cell response in selected T cell subsets to generate endogenous, highly functional, cancer-killing T cells for solid tumors. 

The lead asset, STAR0602, is the first T cell activator generated by the STAR platform and is slated to enter clinical trials following IND submission at the end of 2022.

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