– Strategic collaboration with Pfizer leverages Dren Bio’s proprietary platform to develop bispecific antibodies that connect tumor cells with myeloid cells resulting in immune stimulation, targeted phagocytosis and the cross-presentation of tumor neoantigens to potentially promote durable clinical responses –
– Dren Bio received $25 million upfront payment as part of overall deal for selected oncology targets that includes over $1 billion in potential cash payments plus potential future product-based sales royalties –
January 11, 2022 08:00 AM Eastern Standard Time
REDWOOD CITY, Calif., (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) – Dren Bio, Inc. (“Dren Bio” or the “Company”) today announced it has entered into a research collaboration and license agreement with Pfizer Inc. The strategic collaboration will focus on the discovery and development of therapeutic bispecific antibodies for select oncology targets using Dren Bio’s proprietary Targeted Myeloid Engager and Phagocytosis Platform.
Under the terms of the agreement, Pfizer made an upfront cash payment of $25 million to Dren Bio, with the Company eligible to potentially receive more than $1 billion of cash in total, including payments for the achievement of future development, regulatory, and commercial milestones. Dren Bio and Pfizer will work together to advance the selected oncology target programs through clinical candidate selection, at which point Pfizer will assume full responsibility for all remaining development, manufacturing, regulatory and commercialization activities. For each target-specific product that is globally licensed by Pfizer, Dren Bio will be eligible to receive tiered royalties on all future net sales during the term of the Agreement. Additionally, under the terms of the agreement, Pfizer also has the right to reserve and subsequently nominate additional oncology targets to license from Dren Bio, subject to additional cash payments and future royalties. Excluding products developed for targets licensed to Pfizer, Dren Bio will retain exclusive global rights for the platform including all other therapeutic targets currently in development as part of its own internal pipeline.
“This agreement highlights Dren Bio’s expertise in therapeutic antibody development and marks the first collaboration using our proprietary platform to harness myeloid cells in disease, offering a differentiated approach with the potential to provide revolutionary therapies to patients across a broad array of therapeutic areas, starting with cancer,” said Nenad Tomasevic, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of Dren Bio. “Pfizer’s unwavering commitment to deliver innovative therapies makes them an ideal strategic partner to help us achieve this vision.”
“Building on Pfizer’s established leadership position in oncology research, we are excited to work alongside Dren Bio on a novel strategy focused on the engagement of myeloid cells to treat cancer,” said Jeff Settleman, Ph.D., Senior Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer for Oncology Research and Development at Pfizer. “Together we hope to develop potential breakthrough treatments for cancer patients.”
The Company’s proprietary Targeted Myeloid Engager and Phagocytosis Platform is a bispecific antibody-based technology that engages a receptor selectively expressed on myeloid cells, including monocytes, macrophages, and dendritic cells. Certain myeloid cells, such as Tumor-Associated Macrophages (TAMs), are part of the tumor microenvironment where they can be immunosuppressive and are therefore often associated with poorer clinical outcomes. By repolarizing TAMs and engaging them together with dendritic cells to execute targeted phagocytosis, antigen presentation, and subsequent T cell activation, the Company’s platform antibodies may expand the therapeutic benefit of immunotherapy while also potentially promoting durable clinical responses.
Data generated to date using platform antibodies from the Company’s pipeline demonstrate a differentiated, multi-pronged mechanism of action that encompasses (i) direct coupling of myeloid cells with tumor cells, (ii) stimulation of myeloid cells causing the release of key cytokines responsible for repolarizing TAMs in order to mitigate the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment, (iii) targeted phagocytosis of tumor cells and (iv) cross-presentation of tumor neoantigens to promote the future activation of tumor-specific T cells to potentially promote a long-lasting immunological memory response. The unique biology of the novel phagocytic receptor targeted by the Company’s platform antibodies enables controlled myeloid cell activation only in the presence of the target antigen, resulting in localized cytokine release for potentially greater therapeutic indexes and safety profiles. In addition to the pharmacodynamic effect demonstrated in preclinical non-human primate studies to date, the observed tolerability and safety profile support the potential utilization of future platform candidates at higher or broader dose levels, which may provide an important benefit when compared to competing technologies such as T or NK cell engagers and antibody drug conjugates.
Dren Bio’s internal development pipeline for the platform currently includes multiple antibodies targeting both liquid and solid tumor types. In addition to the initial focus on developing therapies for the treatment of cancer, the Company has also generated data using platform antibodies against targets associated with non-oncology indications, including forms of amyloidosis and Alzheimer’s disease. This data further supports the vast potential of the platform for developing multiple successful product candidates.
Dren Bio is a privately held, preclinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on developing therapeutic antibodies for the treatment of cancer, autoimmune and other serious diseases. The Company’s management team and scientific advisors have significant expertise covering the discovery and development of drug product candidates designed to selectively target and deplete pathologic cells, protein aggregates and other disease-causing agents. Dren Bio’s drug discovery pipeline encompasses two distinct programs. The Company’s first program focuses on enhanced antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity. The lead product candidate from this first program, DR-01, has been shown preclinically to induce rapid antibody-mediated depletion of a cell type that possesses intrinsic cytotoxic potential and is the primary driver of disease in several rare hematologic malignancies. In addition, DR-01 is also being evaluated for potential use in treating a number of auto-immune indications for which the same cytotoxic immune cells are known to play a key role. Dren Bio is on track to file the first IND for DR-01 in early 2022. The Company’s second program surrounds its proprietary Targeted Myeloid Engager and Phagocytosis Platform, a bispecific antibody-based technology that engages a receptor selectively expressed on myeloid cells, including monocytes, macrophages, and dendritic cells. Certain myeloid cells, such as Tumor-Associated Macrophages (TAMs), are part of the tumor microenvironment where they can be immunosuppressive and are therefore often associated with poorer clinical outcomes. By repolarizing TAMs and engaging them together with dendritic cells to execute targeted phagocytosis, antigen presentation, and subsequent T cell activation, the Company’s platform antibodies may expand the therapeutic benefit of immunotherapy while also potentially promoting durable clinical responses. For more information, please visit the Company's website at www.drenbio.com.
Source: Dren Bio, Inc.
Dren Bio, Inc., a company developing powerful protein-engineering technologies for depletion of cells, protein aggregates and other disease-causing agents, announced the closing of a $60 million Series A investment round. The round was led by SR One and Taiho Ventures, LLC , with participation from existing investors 8VC and Mission BioCapital and new investors including BVF Partners L.P., HBM Healthcare Investments, and Alexandria Venture Investments.
Dren will utilize the proceeds to advance its two lead programs through early clinical development. Dren’s first program, DR-01, is an antibody-based therapy to treat rare leukemias and lymphomas as well as specific phenotypes of auto-immune disorders. Dren’s second program, DR-02, is an enhanced antibody-based platform to deplete cells and other disease-causing agents through a novel mechanism-of-action.
"Our strategy is to select the appropriate immune cell type to induce potent and measurable therapeutic effects," said Nenad Tomasevic, PhD, Dren’s Chief Executive Officer and co-founder. "The DR-01 program employs enhanced ADCC to eliminate pathologic cells in clearly defined patient populations. Our DR-02 platform engages a different immune effector cell to a target, resulting in immune stimulation and target depletion."
Dr. Tomasevic brings over twenty years of biotech development experience and previously co-founded Allakos, a clinical-stage, publicly-traded company nearing commercialization.
Lewis Lanier, PhD, Chair of Dren’s Scientific Advisory Board, said, "Dren’s therapies are exciting because they offer novel strategeies to meet an unmet need in treatment of lymphomas and leukemias and to potentially enhance the potency of T cells in cancer immunotherapy." Dr. Lanier is the Chair of Microbiology and Immunology and the J. Michael Bishop MD Distinguished Professor at UCSF.
"We are impressed by Dren’s progress since the company’s inception in 2019," commented Rajeev Dadoo, Partner at SR One. "The DR-01 program has a clear development path to the clinic, focusing on diseases with no approved therapies."
"In oncology, the DR-02 platform could enable direct and selective depletion of cancer cells accompanied by localized immune stimulation," said Sakae Asanuma, President at Taiho Ventures. "The technology is also demonstrating the potential to eliminate agents in diverse diseases, including infections and protein aggregation. We are proud to recognize Dren’s potential at an early stage and support its success."
Dren previously closed a $6 million Seed Financing in 2019 led by 8VC with participation by Mission BioCapital and prominent industry veterans. "We appreciate the support from Dren’s investors,who to date have committed over $66 million in funding for our programs," said John Wesley, co-founder and Chief Financial Officer. "The goal of our Series A financing is to bring two drug candidates to the clinic."
Dren Bio is a San Carlos, CA based biotechnology company developing powerful protein engineering technologies to deplete cells, protein aggregates and other disease-causing agents. Dren’s lead programs are initially focused on hematologic neoplasms and solid cancers. Dren is actively working in other areas including auto-immune disorders and diseases of protein aggregation. Dren’s team includes accomplished research and development personnel with strong collective industry experience. For more information, please visit: https://drenbio.com/.
SR One invests globally in emerging life science companies pursuing innovative science to significantly impact medical care. SR One’s team of investment professionals, located in the US and UK, have experience spanning basic science, drug development and commercialization. For more information, please visit: http://www.srone.com/
Taiho Ventures, LLC is the strategic corporate venture capital arm of Taiho Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., a Japanese specialty pharma focusing on oncology, allergy and immunology, and urology. Taiho Ventures is looking at early-stage preclinical oncology companies as well as platform technology companies for our core therapeutic areas. Taiho Ventures will review the wide variety of modalities for both biologics and small molecules and also consider the option type of investments and spin-outs, in addition to the pure equity investments. For more information, please visit: https://www.taihoventures.com/
8VC is a leading technology investment firm investing in visionary teams and backing industry-transforming companies. The partners have a proven track-record as founders, engineers, and operators of successful companies including Palantir, Addepar, Affinity and OpenGov, among others. The predecessor firm Formation 8 was founded in 2012 and today, manages $1.1 billion in committed capital. 8VC was founded in 2016 and manages $2.4 billion in committed capital. 8VC invests primarily in SaaS companies and biotechnology. For more information, please visit http://8vc.com.
BVF Partners L.P. is a San Francisco-based investment management firm with more than 26 years investing in public and private biotechnology companies. For more information, please visit: https://www.bvflp.com/
HBM Healthcare Investments holds and manages an international portfolio of promising companies in the human medicine, biotechnology, medical technology and diagnostics sectors and related areas. HBM Healthcare Investments has an international shareholder base and is listed on SIX Swiss Exchange (ticker: HBMN). For more information, please visit: https://www.hbmhealthcare.com/
Mission BioCapital (MBC) brings together the teams of Mission Bay Capital and BioInnovation Capital into a single venture firm. MBC is focused on making pivotal, early-stage investments in life science companies. We support entrepreneurs through a unique combination of shared lab spaces, capital investment and access to strategic partners. https://www.missionbiocapital.com/
Alexandria Venture Investments, founded in 1996, is the strategic venture capital platform of Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc. (NYSE:ARE). With more than $1B under management, Alexandria Venture Investments has been recognized by Silicon Valley Bank as the #1 most active investor in biopharma by new deal volume since 2017. Alexandria Venture Investments provides long-term strategic investment capital to transformative seed-, early- and growth-stage life science, technology and agtech companies advancing innovative platforms to improve human health. For more information, please visit www.are.com/venture-investments.html.
Source: Dren Bio, Inc.