In order to create cell therapies using the first-in-class humanised antibody BNC101, Australian CAR-T cell specialist Carina Biotech has entered into a deal with Bionomics Limited.
Carina will fund all R&D and pay up to A$118 million ($86 million) in clinical and development milestones, under the terms of the global, exclusive agreement.
Bionomics will also be eligible for royalty payments should a saleable product result from Carina’s efforts.
After the sale of its first proprietary CAR-T cell to the UK company Biosceptre and an agreement with the Sydney-based immuno-oncology company Glytherix, the deal constitutes the third commercial deal for Carina in as many months.
Targeting cancer stem cells
The project will concentrate on LGR5, a highly expressed molecular marker for cancer stem cells in solid tumours, including colorectal, breast, pancreatic, ovarian, lung, liver and gastric cancers.
Carina has a proprietary platform that generates what it defines as CAR-T “supercharged” cells.
Chief executive Deborah Rathjen said: “Cancer stem cells, or CSCs, seem to have some kind of resistance to anti-cancer therapies. Anti-cancer drugs can kill proliferating cancer cells but CSCs survive – hence some cancers will respond to initial treatment but inevitably the cancer returns”.
She added: “We will be able to get to the core of some cancers by creating a CAR-T cell that targets CSCs, to kill those cells that allow cancers to keep bouncing back.”