Roche (SIX: RO, ROG; OTCQX: RHHBY) and Molecular Partners AG today announced that they have entered into a research collaboration and licensing agreement to discover, develop and commercialize several proprietary therapeutics incorporating Molecular Partners' DARPin® biologics conjugated to toxic agents developed at Roche for the treatment of cancer.
DARPin-drug conjugates would be an exciting new class of drugs offering the potential of enhanced efficacy with substantial patient benefit over existing therapies.
DARPins are non-antibody-based small proteins where a variable region has been engineered for target binding. Their small size and high binding affinity enable them to hone in on and penetrate deep into solid tumors. DARPins are thus ideal targeting agents to deliver toxic agents to tumors to kill cancer cells. As a result of their ability to bind to different epitopes than antibodies, and by binding to multiple epitopes or targets in parallel at the same time, DARPins are believed to have a higher selectivity for tumor cells compared to other biologics including antibody drug conjugates.
"We are excited about this collaboration as the DARPin platform is truly complementary to our internal capabilities in the large molecule space," Sylke Poehling, Head of Large Molecule Research at Roche commented. "In the field of drug conjugates, we have identified an excellent opportunity to combine our expertise with the leading company in non-antibody scaffold technology to develop transformative cancer medicines."