AvantGen Announces Licensing of Its Anti-SARS-CoV-2 Antibodies to IGM Biosciences for COVID-19 Therapy Development

SAN DIEGO, CA, USA I January 11, 2021 I AvantGen, Inc., a San Diego-based biotechnology company with an array of technology platforms for antibody discovery and optimization, and novel NK and T cell engager generation, today announced licensing of a panel of its anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody clones to IGM Biosciences for COVID-19 therapy development.

Using its novel yeast display system and large diverse human antibody libraries, AvantGen has identified a panel of high affinity human monoclonal antibody clones that bind to two distinct epitopes on the receptor binding domain of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. Upon binding, the antibodies block the spike protein from interacting with ACE2 and thereby prevent virus-induced cell-killing, also known as cytopathic effect. In addition, one group of antibody clones can also block ACE2’s interaction with SARS-CoV-1, indicating that the epitope recognized by this group of clones is conserved between SARS-CoV-1 and -2, potentially conferring broader neutralizing activity against this family of coronaviruses.

In a recognized animal model of SARS-CoV-2 infection, AvantGen’s lead candidate antibody has been shown to significantly reduce viral load in, and macrophage infiltration of, the lungs, as well as reduce disease severity. These findings have been published in Frontiers in Immunology (https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fimmu.2020.614256/full).

Under the licensing agreement, AvantGen grants IGM Biosciences the rights to convert the antibody clones into IgA or IgM format for further development for the treatment of COVID-19. AvantGen received an upfront payment from IGM Biosciences and is eligible to receive milestone and royalty payments.

“We are pleased to license these antibodies to IGM Biosciences for their further development using IGM Biosciences’ proprietary IgA or IgM formats”, said Dr. Xiaomin Fan, Founder, President and CEO of AvantGen, “Even with the recent Emergency Use Authorization of multiple vaccines, we believe there remains an urgent need for potent antibody therapies and prophylactics for immunocompromised patients who cannot mount an adequate immune response either to the vaccine or to subsequent viral infection. Our antibody clones in their original IgG format have shown potent neutralization activity in in vitro assays and, in the case of our lead clone, in an in vivo animal model. IGM’s platform enables the potential enhanced potency and broader cross-reactivity and neutralization offered by the IgA and IgM formats.”

“As IGM may be the only company in the world that is currently able to produce IgM antibodies with high yield and high quality, we feel a responsibility to explore the potential efficacy of these engineered antibodies in COVID-19 patients,” said Fred Schwarzer, CEO of IGM Biosciences. “We believe that our IgM antibodies may produce better binding, cross-reactivity and neutralization than the corresponding IgG antibodies. These advantages, in addition to our manufacturing capabilities and the panel of high affinity and neutralizing human monoclonal antibody clones discovered by AvantGen, underlie our belief that this collaboration may offer significant benefits to patients.”

About AvantGen

AvantGen, Inc is a leader in the use of yeast display technology for antibody discovery and optimization. Founded by experts in the creation of antibody discovery and optimization platforms, AvantGen excels in the rapid generation of antibodies for therapeutic, diagnostic and research tool applications. The Company’s platforms include a robust yeast display system, large natural human antibody database, fully human antibody libraries comprised of over 100 billion antibody clones displayed by yeast cells, NK and T cell engager technology, flow cytometry-based and other screening technologies, as well as novel methodologies for rabbit monoclonal antibody generation. These versatile platforms can be used to discover and optimize antibodies directed at specific disease targets, affinity mature existing antibodies to improve their binding properties and humanize antibodies to render non-human antibodies suitable for human therapeutic applications, as well as generate rabbit monoclonal antibodies for applications that need extremely high specificity, such as antibodies capable of distinguishing point mutations and post-translational modifications for IHC, and anti-idiotype antibodies for PK studies. AvantGen’s partners include pharmaceutical, biotech, diagnostic and government entities, many of which are repeat customers. For more information, visit www.avantgen.com.

About IGM Biosciences, Inc.

Headquartered in Mountain View, California, IGM Biosciences is a clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on creating and developing engineered IgM antibodies. Since 2010, IGM Biosciences has worked to overcome the manufacturing and protein engineering hurdles that have limited the therapeutic use of IgM antibodies. Through its efforts, IGM Biosciences has created a proprietary IgM technology platform for the development of IgM antibodies for those clinical indications where their inherent properties may provide advantages as compared to IgG antibodies.

SOURCE: AvantGen

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