ASLAN Pharma Enters Into Licensing and Research Collaboration Agreement With NTU For The Development of Modybodies

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Antibody structure Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Antibody structure Credit: Wikimedia Commons

ASLAN Pharmaceuticals (ASLAN), a biotech company focused on the development of immunotherapies and targeted agents for Asia prevalent tumour types, today announced that it has entered into a licensing and research collaboration agreement with Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) for the development of Modybodies, a novel type of stabilised heavy chain monoclonal antibody (mAb) fragments.

ASLAN will collaborate with NTU on the development of Modybodies against three targets of ASLAN’s choice and has an exclusive option, under pre-negotiated terms, to obtain global rights to develop and commercialise Modybodies.

ASLAN expects the first Modybody from the collaboration to enter clinical development in 2018. The technology originated from a laboratory at NTU’s School of Biological Sciences headed by Professor Pär Nordlund, a world-leading structural biologist who established the Structural Genomics Consortium laboratory at Karolinska Institutet, Sweden.

Commercial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Due to their small size, Modybodies have higher tissue penetration than monoclonal antibodies and can be linked together into heterodimers/trimers to further create novel molecules. Modybodies are especially beneficial for challenging drug targets and their customisable half-life allows for pharmacokinetic modulation.

This agreement with NTU marks ASLAN’s second licensing and development collaboration with a leading scientific research institute in Singapore. ASLAN recently announced a partnership with Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) on the in-licensing and development of a RON antibody. ASLAN is planning to establish a biologics laboratory in Singapore to develop the manufacturing processes for its biologics portfolio, including the RON antibody and Modybodies.

The development of the Modybodies technology has been granted the support of the SPARK@NTU programme which was started by NTUitive, NTU’s innovation and enterprise company. SPARK@NTU was launched in April 2015 with the aim of supporting the translation of promising academic research programmes in products, tools and platforms with applications in the biopharmaceutical sector.

Commenting on the agreement, Dr Bertil Lindmark, Chief Medical Officer of ASLAN Pharmaceuticals, said: “Our agreement with NTU is wholly aligned with ASLAN’s strategy and commitment to developing a broad pipeline of proprietary immunotherapies with the potential to transform the treatment of Asia prevalent cancers. It is a further example of ASLAN’s success in establishing partnerships with leading institutions to enhance our research strength and accelerate the clinical development of new therapies. We look forward to collaborating closely with Professor Nordlund and his team as we seek to share expertise in the fields of drug discovery and development.”

Professor Pär Nordlund added: I am very pleased that by working together with ASLAN we will not only strengthen the capabilities of the Singapore biologics industry, but will also accelerate the important innovations needed to develop drugs that can change the way Asia prevalent tumours are treated. This agreement with ASLAN provides a strong development partner for this exciting new technology, which has the potential to transform the way we treat cancer.