Magenta Therapeutics and Heidelberg Pharma Team Up for Bone Marrow Transplants
By Mark Terry
Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Magenta Therapeutics is teaming up with Ladenburg, Germany-based Heidelberg Pharma GmbH to improve curative bone marrow transplantation. The multi-target research deal will utilize Magenta’s stem cell platform and proprietary antibodies with Heidelberg’s proprietary ATAC (Antibody Targeted Amanitin Conjugates) platform to focus on up to four targets.
Although financial details have not been released, Heidelberg Pharma will receive an upfront payment and be eligible to receive option fees, and various milestone payments up to $334 million.
“There is a significant need for targeted conditioning regimens for bone marrow transplant, and this is a key area of focus for Magenta,” said Michael Cooke, Magenta’s chief scientific officer, in a statement. “Our partnership with Heidelberg Pharma is an important step in our development of proprietary targeted antibody drug conjugates for conditioning. Amanitin is one of the promising toxins we are exploring in our targeted conditioning programs, and our partnership with Heidelberg Pharma will allow us to fully evaluate the potential of this payload.”
Bone marrow transplant is often used to treat certain types of blood cancers and genetic diseases, and also has potential for the treatment of severe refractory autoimmune diseases. A patient’s bone marrow is destroyed and then replaced by bone marrow stem cells and blood cells from a compatible donor. The method of destroying the marrow currently is using highly toxic chemicals, often chemotherapeutic agents, or radiation. Magenta’s approach is to use antibodies that recognize stem cells linked to drugs that can selectively remove stem cells and diseased cells, which would have fewer side effects and toxicity.
Brittany Meiling, with Endpoints News, writes, “Magenta, with its lofty goals of improving stem cell transplantation, has been making a splash in the big Cambridge/Boston hub, gathering $98.5 million in venture cash from some marquee investors that include GV—the venture group formerly known as Google Ventures—and in-licensing a mid-stage drug that Novartis thinks highly of for enhancing cord blood stem cells as a treatment. Just last month, the company recruited Big Pharma R&D exec John Davis, formerly of Pfizer, to serve as Magenta’s new chief medical officer.”
The company was launched in 2016. Investors included Third Rock Ventures and Atlas Venture.
On February 26, Magenta presented preclinical and clinical data at the American Society of Bone Marrow Transplant (ASBMT) annual Bone Marrow Transplant Tandem meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah. The company had multiple presentations and abstracts, including its work with MGTA-456, a single cord blood unit expanded with an aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) antagonist to assist with marrow replacement in Hurler’s disease, metachromatic leukodystrophy, adrenoleukodystrophy and globoid cell leukodystrophy. The studies were conducted in mice transplanted with MGTA-456.
Of the new research collaboration, Andreas Pahl, Heidelberg Pharma’s chief scientific officer, said in a statement, “We are delighted to collaborate with Magenta Therapeutics, a company at the forefront of transforming the field of bone marrow transplant medicine. We believe this partnership further validates our technology and underscores our leadership in the field of Antibody Targeted Amanitin Conjugates, a new mode of action for attacking cancer. We look forward to working with Magenta to expand the application of our ATAC technology to new targets to potentially address unmet needs in bone marrow transplantation.”