Nordic Nanovector and AREVA Med, the AREVA medical subsidiary developing lead-212 (212Pb) based cancer therapies, have entered into a collaboration agreement to investigate the potential of a 212Pb-conjugated anti-CD37 antibody for the treatment of leukaemias.
Leukemias are orphan diseases with a significant unmet medical need. Prevalent relapsed AML and CLL patients are more than 60,000 per year worldwide. This represents a growing market worth over USD 5 billion by 2020.
Under the terms of the agreement, Nordic Nanovector will provide its chimeric anti-CD37 antibody (NNV003) and its expertise in antibody radionuclide conjugate (ARC) development while AREVA Med will provide expertise in the production of 212Pb, in the development of Targeted Alpha Therapies using this radionuclide and in site-specific bioconjugation methods through its Macrocyclics subsidiary.
The radionuclide 212Pb has important characteristics that make it an attractive payload for the treatment of leukaemias where there is no substantial tumour mass and tumour cells are in close proximity to healthy tissues. These properties are based on the decay chain of 212Pb with the emission of very short range alpha particles, thereby offering the potential to create innovative therapies with highly localized targeting and tumour cell killing with improved tolerability.
Preclinical studies to determine the initial safety and efficacy profile of the novel anti-CD37 212Pb-ARC will be conducted at AREVA Med’s facility in Plano, Texas, USA. Nordic Nanovector has the option to license any resulting ARCs for further development and AREVA Med has the option to license the use of CD37-targeting antibodies for its own purposes.
Both companies will contribute to the collaboration, which will also benefit from grant funding awarded in February 2016 to Nordic Nanovector from the Research Council of Norway’s user-driven research-based innovation program (in Norwegian; Brukerstyrt innovasjonsarena, BIA).
Nordic Nanovector’s Chief Scientific Officer, Jostein Dahle, commented: “The CD37 antigen is expressed on the surface of many haematological cancer cells, including leukaemia cells, making it an important target for ARC-based therapies. Our long-term strategy is focused on building a pipeline of products that leverages our expertise in CD37-targeting and ARCs, combined, where necessary, with therapeutic payloads and complementary expertise from partners such as AREVA Med. We are excited to begin this new collaboration and to evaluate the potential of this novel 212Pb-ARC for treating leukaemias.”
Patrick Bourdet, President & CEO of AREVA Med added: “In addition to our recent facility opening in Texas for the production of 212Pb and development of Targeted Alpha Therapies with 212Pb, this new partnership with Nordic Nanovector expands our project pipeline and places AREVA Med in a very strong position to meet the anticipated acceleration of our development.”