Morphotek Announces Collaboration Agreement With The Johns Hopkins University To Research And Develop Novel Monoclonal Antibody-Based Therapies Targeting Missplicing-Associated Surface Antigens

EXTON, PA, USA I September 6, 2017 I Morphotek®, Inc., a subsidiary of Eisai Inc., announced today that it entered into an agreement with the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine to collaborate on the research and development of biological therapies, including antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) and immunologically enhanced antibodies, targeting Missplicing-Associated Surface Antigens (MASAs). 

Gene splicing is a normal biological process cells use to generate protein variants from a single gene. Cancer-specific mutations may affect genes that regulate this process, in some instances resulting in abnormal tumor-specific MASAs, which potentially contribute to tumor growth and progression.

"We could leverage the presence of these MASAs for targeting tumor cells with our weaponized biological drugs generated by using our drug discovery platforms, including the REsidue-SPEcific Conjugation Technology (RESPECT™) and our proprietary drug conjugate eribulin," stated Luigi Grasso, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer at Morphotek.  "We are excited about this opportunity because MASAs may provide a new way of differentiating tumor cells from normal ones, with the aim of making tumor-targeting biological drugs safer and more effective."

Ben Ho Park, M.D., Ph.D., professor of oncology will lead the research, along with W. Brian Dalton, M.D., Ph.D., an instructor of oncology, both at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center.

Morphotek recently launched a new ADC Services Business to generate ADCs utilizing its proprietary, site-specific, antibody conjugation technology called RESPECT™, as well as its proprietary eribulin drug conjugate, in addition to its development, screening and manufacturing capabilities for third-party collaborators.

About Morphotek
Morphotek®, Inc., a subsidiary of Eisai Inc., is a clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on developing novel classes of biological-based products to treat cancer, inflammatory and infectious diseases.  Our mission is to develop novel targeted therapies that attack underlying disease pathways, and in oncology indications can overcome the immunosuppressive effects by tumors on immune-mediated experimental therapies.  Our diverse pipeline includes clinical-stage monoclonal antibodies to lead targets folate receptor alpha, mesothelin and endosialin, as well as antibody-drug conjugates and bispecific antibodies to undisclosed targets in preclinical development.  Our mission is supported by proprietary cutting-edge technologies in antibody engineering, manufacturing and screening optimization platforms, along with our expertise in developing diagnostics to support patient selection and therapeutic strategy.  For more information, please visit

About Eisai Inc.
At Eisai Inc., human health care (hhc) is our goal. We give our first thought to patients and their families, and helping to increase the benefits health care provides. As the U.S. pharmaceutical subsidiary of Tokyo-based Eisai Co., Ltd., we have a passionate commitment to patient care that is the driving force behind our efforts to discover and develop innovative therapies to help address unmet medical needs.

Eisai is a fully integrated pharmaceutical business that operates in two global business groups: oncology and neurology (dementia-related diseases and neurodegenerative diseases). Each group functions as an end-to-end global business with discovery, development, and marketing capabilities. Our U.S. headquarters, commercial and clinical development organizations are located in New Jersey; our discovery labs are in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania; and our global demand chain organization resides in Maryland and North Carolina. To learn more about Eisai Inc., please visit us at and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

SOURCE: Morphotek

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