Compugen Ltd. (NASDAQ:CGEN) announced today that they have signed a collaboration agreement with Bayer Schering Pharma AG, Germany (“Bayer”) covering the further evaluation of a Compugen discovered tumor target and its splice variants. Following an initial six month joint research stage, the agreement provides Bayer with an option for an exclusive worldwide royalty bearing license for development of monoclonal antibodies and other therapeutic agents addressing these novel target molecules. The existence of the target and its splice variants was initially predicted in silico by Compugen through the use of its Monoclonal Antibody (mAb) Targets Discovery Platform; the predicted molecules were then validated experimentally.
The newly discovered tumor target and its splice variants are previously unknown splice variants of a known cancer target for which therapeutic agents are currently in pre-clinical development by other organizations. Like the known cancer target, this protein molecule and its variants are all trans-membrane proteins. However, each of the Compugen molecules has a unique sequence at the extracellular domain of the protein that enables the development of monoclonal antibodies specific to each of the respective splice variants. Therefore each splice variant could represent a novel target for monoclonal antibody therapy.
A common feature of Compugen’s discovery platforms, such as the mAb Targets Discovery Platform used in this discovery, is the ability to predict and select multiple potential product candidates for each indication of interest. The availability of multiple candidates, in this case a number of different splice variants, should increase the probability of success for the overall program.
Dr. Anat Cohen-Dayag, co-CEO of Compugen said, “Usage of our mAb Targets Discovery Platform is now providing us with a growing inventory of novel target candidates, such as the specific targets covered by this agreement, displaying differential expression in a range of tumor vs. healthy samples. Discovery of target candidates is a key step in the development of monoclonal antibody biotherapeutics for both solid tumors such as ovarian cancer, lung cancer, and colon cancer, as well as hematological malignancies such as multiple myeloma, acute and chronic leukemia and Non Hodgkin lymphoma; and, we are now seeing a growing interest in both our existing target candidates and further applications of the platform. We are therefore very enthusiastic about the clinical and commercial potential for this unique discovery platform and are especially pleased to enter into this collaboration with Bayer Schering Pharma, a world leading pharmaceutical company.”