Under the terms of the agreement, Complix will use its proprietary Alphabody platform to tackle two intra-cellular cancer targets. One example is the myeloid leukemia cell-1 protein (MCL-1), which regulates cell-death.
Initial in vivo data generated with their anti-MCL-1 alphabodies suggest they should have a good safety profile for a range of cancers, particularly hematological types (e.g. leukemia).
MSD will now provide an upfront payment (and potential development milestones) of up to €260M ($280M), as well as tiered royalties. In exchange, MSD will have an option to file exclusive worldwide rights to any successful Cell Penetrating Alphabodies (CPABs) which rise out of the research partnership.
CPABs enter tumor cells and tissues to selectively modulate intracellular protein-to-protein interactions (PPIs), which play a key role in the initiation and progression of cancer.
Despite their name, they are not structurally similar to antibodies, which makes them ‘a type of antibody mimetic‘, given their ability to reach and bind to intracellular protein targets. They also provide an advantage given they can target many types of cancer cells and remain stable within the tumor tissue for up to 24 hours post administration.
Complix NV in (Belgium) and its affiliate Complix SA (Luxembourg) have therefore established a strong intellectual property position protecting the Alphabody platform and its emerging product portfolio, in which MSD clearly find great clinical potential.
Indeed, Complix is also developing Alphabodies for therapeutic application in severe autoimmune diseases (read more in Nature), so perhaps this is another area MSD is keeping an eye on for potential additional investment further down the road…