Boehringer Ingelheim Acquires Northern Biologics’ Preclinical Cancer Antibody Pipeline, Expanding Immuno-oncology Portfolio

  • Acquisition provides assets targeting the tumor stroma and myeloid cells
  • These new programs targeting the tumor microenvironment are the latest in a series of strategic acquisitions and collaborations that strengthen Boehringer Ingelheim’s position in cancer immunology, with leading assets and robust capabilities in cancer vaccines, oncolytic viruses, T-cell engagers and myeloid cell modulators
  • Acquisition of Versant-built company based in Toronto’s MaRS Discovery District

INGELHEIM, Germany & TORONTO, Canada I May 14, 2020 I Boehringer Ingelheim today announced the acquisition of Northern Biologics Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Northern LP. By acquiring this entity, which focuses on therapeutic antibodies targeting the tumor microenvironment, Boehringer Ingelheim is now positioned at the forefront of the stromal biology space - an emerging area in cancer immunology. The seller will retain the Northern Biologics name and will continue to drive certain preclinical efforts on one of the programs, while Boehringer Ingelheim will be responsible for clinical, regulatory and commercial development of the acquired programs.

The total transaction includes an upfront payment, milestones and other consideration payments.

The first program, now in late preclinical development, is an antibody inhibitor of Periostin, a secreted matricellular protein overexpressed in the immunosuppressive stroma microenvironment of many solid tumor types. Targeting these stromal cells can help turn previously ‘cold’ tumors – non-reactive, immunologically inactive tumors – to ‘hot’ tumors – those that are susceptible or accessible to host immune system attack. The antibody program targeting Periostin has emerged as a promising therapy to overcome stromal mechanisms of immune exclusion and suppression.

The second program targets a key regulator of myeloid cells that is important for enhancing anti-tumor T-cell function. Targeting myeloid cells is a focus area of research and clinical development for Boehringer Ingelheim and the acquired program offers combination opportunities across Boehringer Ingelheim’s portfolio.

“This acquisition provides Boehringer Ingelheim with two complementary assets to our existing cancer immunology portfolio and supports our strategy to target ‘cold’ tumors with synergistic combination approaches,” said Jonathon Sedgwick, Ph.D., Senior Vice President and Global Head, Cancer Immunology & Immune Modulation Research, Boehringer Ingelheim. “Driving innovation in tumor stroma and myeloid cell biology is yet another example of how we are ‘Taking Cancer On’ by exploring first-in-class approaches to provide the best treatment options for cancer patients.”

“We are gratified by this transaction with Boehringer Ingelheim, which simultaneously accelerates these promising assets into the clinic,” said Philip Vickers, Ph.D., President and CEO of Northern Biologics. “I am proud of the Northern R&D team, which discovered and advanced these compounds in the emerging field of tumor stroma and myeloid cell biology.”

Founding investor Versant Ventures established Northern Biologics in Toronto’s MaRS Discovery District in collaboration with the University of Toronto and Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in 2014. The programs acquired by Boehringer Ingelheim were discovered and translated into clinical candidates by Northern’s Toronto-based research team. Northern Biologics retains rights to its lead asset, MSC-1, an anti-LIF 1 antibody that recently successfully completed Phase 1 clinical trials.

The Northern Biologics-Boehringer Ingelheim acquisition represents the second recent transaction for a Versant-built company operating out of the MaRS discovery district in Toronto. It follows the August 2019 acquisition of BlueRock Therapeutics, which also drew on technology locally developed by Canadian scientists.

This acquisition positions Boehringer Ingelheim as a leader in the field of stromal targeting biology and, along with a series of strategic acquisitions and collaborations over the past two years, further strengthens the company’s broad and diverse oncology pipeline. By combining its world-class, in-house research and development with that of highly innovative biotechnology companies, Boehringer Ingelheim is developing innovative cancer immunology therapies and accelerating the delivery of the next generation of cancer treatments.

Boehringer Ingelheim
Making new and better medicines for humans and animals is at the heart of what we do. Our mission is to create breakthrough therapies that change lives. Since its founding in 1885, Boehringer Ingelheim is independent and family-owned. We have the freedom to pursue our long-term vision, looking ahead to identify the health challenges of the future and targeting those areas of need where we can do the most good.

As a world-leading, research-driven pharmaceutical company, more than 51,000 employees create value through innovation daily for our three business areas: Human Pharma, Animal Health, and Biopharmaceutical Contract Manufacturing. In 2019, Boehringer Ingelheim achieved net sales of 19 billion euros. Our significant investment of almost 3.5 billion euros in R&D drives innovation, enabling the next generation of medicines that save lives and improve quality of life. 

We realize more scientific opportunities by embracing the power of partnership and diversity of experts across the life-science community. By working together, we accelerate the delivery of the next medical breakthrough that will transform the lives of patients now, and in generations to come.

More information about Boehringer Ingelheim can be found at www.boehringer-ingelheim.com or in our annual report: http://annualreport.boehringer-ingelheim.com.

Boehringer Ingelheim in Oncology
Cancer takes. Takes away time. Takes away loved ones. At Boehringer Ingelheim Oncology, we are giving patients new hope, by taking cancer on. We are dedicated to collaborating with the oncology community on a shared journey to deliver leading science. Our primary focus is in lung and gastrointestinal cancers, with the goal of delivering breakthrough, first-in-class treatments that can help win the fight against cancer. Our commitment to innovation has resulted in pioneering treatments for lung cancer and we are advancing a unique pipeline of cancer cell directed agents, immune oncology therapies and intelligent combination approaches to help combat many cancers.

Northern LP
Northern LP is a clinical stage biotechnology company launched by Versant Ventures in 2014.  Northern LP is developing a portfolio of first-in-class therapeutic antibody programs targeting the tumor microenvironment to combat cancer and other serious diseases. The company’s lead program, MSC-1, is a humanized antibody targeting the cytokine LIF, a key suppressive cytokine in the tumor microenvironment.  MSC-1 drives two therapeutics mechanisms to treat cancer: first, by reversing tumor immunosuppression to drive ‘cold’ tumors ‘hot’ and enable the body’s immune system to attack and destroy cancer cell, and secondly by attacking cancer stem cells to promote tumor cell differentiation and thereby increasing sensitivity to chemotherapy. Following Northern LP’s successful completion of a Phase 1 study for MSC-1 in 2019, it is currently planning multiple clinical efficacy trials of MSC-1 in a range of solid tumors including pancreatic cancer and lung cancer.

SOURCE: Boehringer Ingelheim

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