Biotech company AdAlta (ASX: 1AD) signed taken a significant towards monetising its proprietary technology after signing a commercial agreement for its i-body platform with US-based medical technology giant, GE Healthcare.
However, despite making the announcement earlier today, the company stopped short of publishing financial terms.
GE Healthcare is an American multinational conglomerate that currently generates more than US$19 trillion (A$27 trillion) in revenue each year and has established itself as one of the world’s largest healthcare companies.
The licencing deal will see the two companies develop i-bodies for diagnostic imaging which could help identify molecular markers of activated T-cells and could potentially help in the selection and monitoring of patients receiving immunotherapy.
AdAlta’s i-body technology is a new class of human protein therapeutic based on the shape of the “shark single domain antibody” and is one-tenth the size of traditional antibodies, making it ideally suited as an imaging agent.
The platform was hailed as “technology that allows undruggable targets to be drugged,” by AdAlta’s non-executive director Robert Peach.
AdAlta said that initial work will focus on “Granzyme B” – a serine protease commonly secreted by immune cells in cancer.
Furthermore, the aspirational biotech company claims it has utilised the unique structure of the i-body to develop a proprietary library containing over 20 billion i-body compounds. The library can be rapidly screened against a disease target of choice, to identify i-bodies specific for a range of therapeutically relevant targets and develop treatments for many conditions.
Once an i-body is identified to have affinity and specificity with a drug target of interest, its effectiveness is evaluated in cell-based assays and in animal experiments. AdAlta said it has screened the i-body library to find a match with approximately 20 drug targets to date and has identified i-bodies that bind to the target in each instance.
“This is a key step toward AdAlta’s goal of becoming a global player in next-generation antibodies. The small size and flexibility of the i-body makes it ideal as an imaging agent” said Paul MacLeman, executive chairman of AdAlta.
Meanwhile, GE Healthcare’s head of molecular imaging oncology Sanka Thiru said the deal represented an opportunity “to develop a portfolio of molecular imaging agents for disease biomarkers that will help accelerate the development of the next generation of immuno-oncology treatments”.
Additional drug development
In parallel to signing a licencing deal with GE Healthcare, AdAlta also intends to advance its AD-214 therapeutic program in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, which is due to enter human trials in January 2020.
In June 2018, the biotech company announced it had “locked-in critical manufacturing agreements” for its lead anti-fibrosis drug after securing orphan drug status from the FDA in the US.
AdAlta confirmed that it is “on track” with its clinical trial preparation with the next phase being the release of current toxicity study data. AdAlta’s lead i-body candidate, AD-214 is for the treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and other human fibrotic diseases, for which current therapies are sub-optimal and there is a high unmet medical need.
AdAlta surprised the market with last month’s announcement of the resignation of Ms Samantha Cobb as chief executive officer and managing director.
Ms Cobb was the company’s founding CEO and has served in the position for over 12 years, growing AdAlta from a research-based start-up through to an ASX-listed company commencing a first-in-human clinical program, set to take place next year.
Upon her resignation, the company said it had put out a domestic and international search for a new chief and declared: “As a clinical company, AdAlta enters a new stage of growth and is well supported by an experienced senior leadership team to implement the company’s strategy through clinical trial management, alongside collaborative and in-house pipeline progression.”
This morning’s licencing deal with GE Healthcare gave AdAlta’s shares an instant boost with shares trading up over 30% at $0.15 per share in morning.