The biotechnology company Alligator Bioscience in Lund specialises in tumour-directed immunotherapies for cancer treatment. The signing of a MUSD 700 deal, plus royalties, with Johnson & Johnson is a sure sign of their pole position in the hot field of immuno-oncology.
In 2014, it was as if all pharmaceutical companies suddenly decided to go for immuno-oncology, following positive study results concerning a group of new promising compounds, PD-L1 inhibitors. They act to inhibit the association of Programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) with its receptor Programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1), thereby preventing cancer from evading the immune system responses. Several PD-L1 inhibitor antibodies are being successfully trialled for different cancer types.
Alligator Bioscience in Lund has been active in this field since 2008. Their long experience puts them at the forefront and gives them a great advantage. The company’s technology platform consists of ALLIGATOR-GOLD® – an antibody library comprising over 60 billion different human antibody variants and FIND® – a technology for optimising the characteristics of antibodies and other proteins.
The company has a strong pipeline of five antibody-based products, all with the potential to become first-in-class or best-in-class. By leveraging on their leading and differentiated research position of tumour-directed immunotherapy they avoid head-to-head competition with big pharma.
Their most advanced project, the antibody ADC-1013, activates dendritic cells by the stimulation of the co-stimulatory receptor CD40. Dendritic cells activated in this way can effectively instruct T-cells to find and kill tumour cells in the whole body. Since some tumour cells express CD40 on the surface, ADC-1013 may also act through a secondary mechanism of action by directly killing such tumour cells.
Record Deal with Johnson & Johnson
The fact that Janssen Biotech, a company within Johnson & Johnson Innovation will pay MUSD 700, up-front and milestones, plus significant royalties for an exclusive, worldwide, licence to ADC-1013 demonstrates Alligator’s edge over its competitors.
”The agreement with Johnson & Johnson, in August 2015, is one of the greatest ever concerning a single product in early clinical phase I,” Per Norlén, CEO and Chief Medical Officer of Alligator Bioscience, comments.
The deal has naturally caused great interest in the company, both among investors and potential employees. And, they deservedly won the SwedenBIO Award 2016.
”It’s not just about the J&J deal. People notice that we’re in the frontline in the hottest field on the market, immuno-oncology. We’ll continue to keep our position even though all the big pharma companies are now in this game. It’s unique for a small company as Alligator.”
Since the signing with Johnson & Johnson, Alligator Bioscience has increased their staff by 50% we are today 40 employees, and in November 2016 Alligator was listed on Nasdaq Stockholm including a successful share issue that added almost 350 million SEK to the Company’s cash position.