Agenus, a Lexington, MA-based biotechnology company developing novel immunotherapeutics, including a portfolio of checkpoint modulators (CPMs), anticancer vaccines and adjuvants, has completed its previously announced acquisition of 4-Antibody, a private European-based biopharmaceutical company.
The acquisition includes the Retrocyte Display technology platform which enables rapid discovery and optimisation of fully human antibodies against a wide array of molecular targets. 4-Antibody has been applying Retrocyte Display to create therapeutic antibodies to six key checkpoint targets that regulate immune response to cancers and other diseases. The company has multiple preclinical immune CPM programmes in development.
In this transaction, Agenus acquired all outstanding stock of 4-Antibody for approximately US3.3mn shares of Agenus common stock, plus additional contingent payments, payable in cash or Agenus common stock, that may exceed US$40mn based on the combined company achieving certain milestones. Agenus intends to continue 4-Antibody's operations in Basel, Switzerland and Jena, Germany, and to retain the 4-Antibody management team as part of the combined company.
Through this acquisition, Agenus gained six programmes targeting key checkpoints that the company plans to pursue vigorously. These assets, together with the substantial capital raised in the company's recent public offering, position it well to develop a portfolio of innovative immunotherapies for cancer. In addition, Agenus now has a flexible platform for rapid discovery and optimisation of fully human antibodies against a wide array of molecular targets, which the company plans to leverage on its own, with pharma partnerships, and through its collaborations with Ludwig Cancer Research and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
CPM combinations such as cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen-4 inhibitors and programmed death receptor-1 inhibitors have shown impressive clinical responses in recent clinical trials. Other checkpoints, such as GITR and OX40, act to stimulate immune function. Agenus is driving leading edge programmes to discover and develop fully human or humanised monoclonal antibodies that act as agonists for GITR or OX40 signalling.