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Starpharma signs new DEP research agreement with MSD

Melbourne, Australia
Thursday, August 11, 2022, 11:00 Hrs  [IST]

Starpharma announced it has signed a new DEP research agreement with MSD, the trade name of Merck Sharp & Dohme LLC, Rahway, New Jersey, USA. This new agreement follows an earlier DEP antibody drug conjugate (ADC) agreement signed with MSD in February 2021.

Under the new agreement, Starpharma will design and synthesize a number of DEP dendrimer conjugates and will provide them to MSD for testing and characterisation.

Dr Jackie Fairley, CEO of Starpharma commented: “We are very pleased to add this new DEP ADC programme with MSD and to continue building on our partnership with them in such an innovative and valuable area.

“This new DEP programme underlines the potential clinical and commercial value our DEP technology can deliver.”

ADCs are designed to incorporate the specific cell targeting property of antibodies with the cell killing properties of chemically conjugated drugs, to provide a targeted therapeutic with minimal off target toxicities. Starpharma has previously demonstrated the advantages of DEP in ADCs in multiple programmes.

This research agreement covers a research project. Research fees are payable to Starpharma for the work completed under this agreement and Starpharma is not required to fund the program. The initial term for this agreement is 12 months and the terms for this new agreement are the same as for the research agreement signed in February 2021. Each party maintains ownership of their own background intellectual property. The research fees under this agreement are not expected to be material. The agreement is subject to industry standard performance and termination provisions.

Starpharma has multiple DEP partnerships with leading, international companies, including AstraZeneca, MSD, and Chase Sun, and the company’s DEP technology has already yielded four clinical-stage oncology products.

Antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) have become an increasingly valuable class of therapeutic agents in oncology and haematology. The design of ADCs incorporates the specific cell targeting property of antibodies with the cell killing properties of chemically conjugated drugs, to provide a targeted therapeutic with minimal off target toxicities. DEP ADCs have the potential to overcome the limitation of relatively low drug loading that is a feature of first-generation ADCs. The DEP technology allows precise attachment of drug loaded dendrimer(s) to targeting molecules with a high load of covalently link drug (4, 8,16, 32 drug molecules per dendrimer) providing a selective, homogeneous ADC with a significantly higher drug-antibody ratio (DAR) as compared to currently available ADCs. Starpharma has previously demonstrated the advantages of DEP® in ADCs in multiple preclinical studies, including for DEP HER-2 ADC, which showed significant tumour regression and 100% survival, outperforming Herceptin & Kadcyla in a human ovarian cancer model. DEP ADCs are the subject of both internal and partnered DEP programmes.

 

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