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BioNTech buys MAB Discovery’s antibody research unit

  • German biotech BioNTech said it will buy all of MAB Discovery’s assets, employees and proprietary methods for generation of monoclonal antibodies in a deal announced Wednesday.
  • “Having exclusive access to MAB Discovery’s finely-tuned proprietary know-how dramatically expands BioNTech’s targeting ligand repertoire and enables us to directly, rapidly and efficiently produce new [monoclonal antibody] candidates,” BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin said in a statement.
  • For its part, MAB Discovery will hold on to the rights to its preclinical development pipeline and maintain its current third-party service agreements. No financial details were disclosed.

Known for its work in the field of messenger RNA therapeutics, BioNTech is looking for new ways to grow.

Earlier this month, the private company an extension of a research collaboration with Sanofi that included an 80 million euro (or about $90 million) investment in equity from the French drugmaker.

BioNTech’s focus is on how messenger RNA can be used to spur a therapeutic response from the body, and the biotech has developed a pipeline with seven candidates in clinical testing.

Phase 1 results on one such mRNA treatment, an individualized immunotherapy for metastatic melanoma, were published in Nature in 2017.

The German company also has development or licensing deals in place with Roche’s Genentech, Sanofi, Pfizer, GenMab and Genevant.

BioNTech’s already familiar with MAB Discovery, having worked with the company for the past five years through a research collaboration. BioNTech had already begun using MAB Discovery’s technology to generate antibodies.

MAB Discovery’s technology will be used with BioNTech platforms including RiboMABS, the company stated.

Several other drugmakers are also betting heavily on the potential of mRNA to generate therapeutic antibodies, delivering the code for a protein rather than the protein itself. Moderna Therapeutics, a well-funded biotech based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is perhaps the best known but others like Gritstone Oncology and Neon Therapeutics are also working in the field.