5-Member GO Therapeutics Inks $195 Million Deal with Roche


By Mark Terry


GO Therapeutics, headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., signed a licensing deal with Swiss-based Roche to develop antibodies for cancer.

Under the terms of the deal, GO will receive upfront and near-term milestones of $9 million. GO is also eligible for up to $186 million in milestone payments in addition to mid-single-digit to low double-digit royalties on any products that might come out of the agreement.

GO Therapeutics focuses on advances in glycobiology to develop cancer drugs that are both more potent and less toxic. It develops cancer-specific antibodies that can be used as antibody-drug conjugates (ADC), bispecific T-cell engagers and immune-based cell therapies.

“We are excited about this collaboration to develop an innovative immune-redirected therapy to potentially improve the lives of patients suffering from cancer in the future,” said Constantine Theodoropulos, GO Therapeutics’ chief executive officer, in a statement. “GO’s glycoprotein targeting platform opens an exciting class of tumor-specific antigens that can help widen the therapeutic window for cancer therapies such as T-cell bispecific antibodies, CAR-T and ADCs (Antibody Drug Conjugates). Preclinical data show GO’s approach can provide superior specificity in targeting solid tumors over normal tissue and demonstrate clean in-vivo toxicity profiles in the context of potent immunotherapies.”

GO Therapeutics is a tiny company, which makes the size of the deal, relatively small for the industry, look huge in comparison. GO Therapeutics has a staff of five. It is operating out of shared laboratory space at LabCentral in Cambridge.

The company’s technology is designed to be more targeted, which would make the drugs more effective with fewer side effects since they have less impact on healthy cells. The company was founded by Theodoropulos, Hans Wandall and Thayer White.

Theodoropulos has been a business consultant in the life sciences and technology for about 20 years. Before GO, he was founder and president of Base Pair Group, a consultancy. He was head of strategic marketing for EBD Group, a life science partnering events company, where he worked on corporate strategy, product development and marketing. EBD Group was sold to Informa in 2014.

Wandall is the co-director of the center for glycobiology at the University of Copenhagen. His research focuses on the genetics of glycan function, creating epithelial tissue models used to dissect glycan functions in cancer and viral infection.

White earned his doctorate at the University of Washington. He has worked at The Pacific Northwest Research Foundation, The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Imre Corporation, The Biomembrane Research Institute, and Cell Therapeutics. He was also the vice president of Research and Development at ZymeQuest.

About a year ago, Salubris Pharma, based in Shenzhen, China, invested $5 million into the company. At the time, Sam Murphy, vice president and head of International Business Development for Salubris, joined GO’s board of directors. “Novel, cancer-specific targets are imperative to widening the therapeutic window for powerful, cutting-edge cancer therapeutic modalities such as T-cell engagement and ADCs that offer tremendous promise for patients around the world,” Murphy stated at the time. “GO Therapeutics has the opportunity to generate significant value by opening an exciting new class of cancer-specific targets that will underpin transformative cancer therapeutics.”

The company expects to add on a couple key staffers, and is contemplating a Series B financing toward the end of the year, based on how close they feel they are to taking any compounds into the clinic.



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