Pharma Focus Asia

Boston Immune Technologies and Therapeutics and BeiGene Enter into an Exclusive Option and License Agreement to Develop Novel TNFR2 Antagonists

Friday, February 19, 2021

Boston Immune Technologies and Therapeutics, Inc. (BITT), a privately held developer of novel antagonist antibodies for cancer and other diseases, and BeiGene, Ltd announced that they have entered into an option and license agreement aimed at developing and commercializing BITT’s innovative tumor necrosis factor (TNF) receptor 2 (TNFR2) antagonist antibodies. BeiGene has secured an option to an exclusive license to develop, manufacture, and commercialize BITT’s proprietary TNFR2 antagonist antibodies in Asia (excluding Japan), Australia, and New Zealand. The companies plan to conduct Phase 1 clinical trials of BITR2101, BITT’s lead TNFR2 antagonist antibody, including planned combination studies with tislelizumab, BeiGene’s anti-PD-1 antibody.

“BeiGene is a global company with an especially strong track record supporting biotechnology innovation and the ideal partner to help develop BITR2101, our investigational TNFR2 lead antibody,” said Russell LaMontagne, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of BITT. “The collaboration with BeiGene is strong validation of BITT’s antibody platform and an opportunity to prove the potential of BITR2101 as a single agent and in combination with checkpoint inhibitors such as tislelizumab.”

TNFR2 is a member of the TNF receptor superfamily that is selectively expressed on many tumor types as a surface oncogene and has been shown to proliferate tumor cell growth. TNFR2 is also expressed on suppressive immune cells in the tumor microenvironment, including regulatory T cells (Tregs) and myeloid-derived suppressor cells, and has been identified as a potential driver of immune escape and tumor development as well as resistance to checkpoint blockade.

“TNFR2 is an interesting target because of the high expression on the suppressive cells in the tumor microenvironment and a growing consensus that targeting TNFR2 may be a novel and effective approach to treating cancer. BITT has created antibodies that are highly specific to the tumor based on their unique and novel binding modality. We look forward to collaborating with BITT and generating clinical data for BITR2101 as single agent and in combination with tislelizumab,” said Lusong Luo, Ph.D., Senior Vice President of External Innovation at BeiGene.

Under the terms of the agreement, BITT will receive an upfront payment and potential near-term milestone payments totaling $16.6 million, inclusive of BeiGene's exercise of the option to license following initial proof-of-concept studies. Additionally, following BeiGene’s exercise of the option, BITT is eligible to receive development, regulatory, and sales milestones up to $105 million, together with tiered royalties on any product sales in the licensed territory. In connection with the exclusive option and license agreement, BeiGene also invested $4 million in BITT’s Series A preferred stock financing.

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