AbbVie Snatches Up Antibody from Harbour BioMed to Fight COVID-19 and Related Mutations
Harbour BioMed (HBM) announced with Utrecht University on Monday that they have licensed their fully human SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibody, 47D11, and its program to AbbVie. The product is designed for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19, along with related coronaviruses. AbbVie has initiated a Phase I clinical trial of the antibody, and it will conduct the initial clinical program in the U.S. before expanding it into Europe.
The antibody targets a specific conserved region of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. Preclinical research suggests that this antibody against the target can potentially address the existing pandemic, as well as escape mutants.
The Phase I trial is a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study that is meant to evaluate the safety, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of single ascending doses of ABBV-47D11. Specifically, it is being examined in adults who are hospitalized with COVID-19.
“The rapid progress we have made to date is a credit to the outstanding research by our teams and university partners, the strength of HBM’s fully human antibody discovery platform and AbbVie’s world leading expertise in antibody and antiviral drug development,” said Dr. Jingsong Wang, principal founder, executive director, chairman and chief executive officer of HBM. “With the clinical program at AbbVie now underway, we are in a position to contribute a new therapeutic option to address this pandemic.”
Under the license agreement, the development of ABBV-47D11 will be greatly advanced. AbbVie will conduct the clinical development of the product, and if it is successful, it will manufacture and commercialize the product around the globe. The company will also pay HBM and Utrecht University a one-time license fee, payments upon achievement of certain development, regulatory, and sales-based milestones, and tiered royalties on commercial net sales.
Back in August, HBM, Utrecht University and the Erasmus Medical Center announced that they had entered a research collaboration with Viroclinics-DDL and Kiadis Pharma to develop a combination of a monoclonal antibody (mAb) and Natural Killer (NK) cells to treat COVID-19. The collaboration was meant to leverage Kiadis’ K-NK cell therapy platform.
COVID-19 has demonstrated in the past that it can break down NK cell immunity, and those who have a severe case of the disease often lack functional NK cells. The fully human, non-blocking antibody, 49F1, targets a specific region of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. It has also shown that it has strong binding affinity to both SARS-CoV-2 and a second coronavirus in vitro. Under the collaboration agreement, researchers are looking into the elimination of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and virally infected cells by K-NK cells.
“This innovative collaboration with Kiadis allows us to explore potential synergies between the innate and adaptive immunity,” Dr. Wang said at the time of the announcement. “It further underscores the multi-pronged approaches HBM and our partners are taking to address the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic using Harbour Mice platforms and other next-generation technologies to accelerate the development of novel human antibodies.”
In July, HBM announced that it had raised $102.8 million in a Series C round of financing to accelerate the development of its portfolio. The company specializes in next-gen biologics that target cancer and immunologic diseases, in addition to COVID-19. The round follows a $75 million Series B+ financing initiative that was completed back in March.
The company currently has more than 30 programs in its pipeline, including an anti-CD73 monoclonal antibody and a bi-specific anti-BCMAxCD3 mAb.