In addition to our clinical development pipeline, we continue to invest in earlier-stage antibody-based therapies and empowering technologies to ensure long-term strength of our pipeline. Our internal research activities are primarily directed toward:
- Developing new classes of stable linkers and potent, cell-killing drugs
- Identifying novel antigen targets and monoclonal antibodies
- Advancing our antibody engineering initiatives
New Cell-Killing Drugs and Novel Linkers
We continue to study new cell-killing drugs that can be linked to antibodies, such as the auristatins that we currently use in our antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) technology. We are evaluating multiple new auristatins, as well as other classes of cell-killing drugs, for potential applications as ADCs. Our research on novel linkers is directed at developing systems that are more stable in the bloodstream and more effective at releasing the cell-killing agent once inside targeted cancer cells.
Novel Antigen Targets and Monoclonal Antibodies
We are actively engaged in internal efforts to identify and develop monoclonal antibodies and ADCs with novel specificities and activities against selected antigen targets. We focus on proteins that are highly expressed in cancer to identify those proteins that are located on the surface of cancer cells that may serve as targets for monoclonal antibodies or ADCs. We then create and screen panels of cancer-reactive monoclonal antibodies in our laboratories to identify those with the desired specificity. We supplement these internal efforts by evaluating opportunities to in-license targets and antibodies from academic groups and other biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, such as our ongoing collaborations with Agensys and OxfordBiotherapeutics.
We have substantial internal expertise in antibody engineering, both for antibody humanization and defucosylation, as well as engineering of antibodies to improve drug linkage sites for use with our ADC technology. By modifying the number and type of drug-linkage sites found on our antibodies, we believe that we can improve the robustness and efficiency of our manufacturing processes for conjugation of ADCs.