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Mabpharm Out-Licenses US-EU Rights for COVID-19 Fusion Protein to Sorrento
Mabpharm (HK: 2181) of Taizhou out-licensed US and EU rights for an ACE-MAB fusion protein that targets COVID-19 to San Diego's Sorrento Therapeutics (NSDQ: SRNE). The two companies will jointly conduct clinical trials of the candidate. The bi-specific is expected to interrupt the life cycle of SARS-CoV by blocking the virus from binding respiratory epithelial cells and ACE2-expressing cells. If the fusion protein is approved by regulators, Mabpharm will manufacture the product in its China's facilities. Sorrento will develop the candidate for the US and EU, while Mabpharm will own rights in China, Japan and the rest of the world.
ACE-MAB, a bi-specific, contains a fully human antibody targeting the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 and a truncated ACE2 protein that binds to a different epitope of the spike protein. The ACE-MAB fusion protein is also designed to block the receptor binding domain with CD147 to lessen lung inflammation and the cytokine storm.
According to Sorrento, the dual-arm design could provide a unique treatment. Besides preventing the virus from infecting cells, the bi-specific molecule retains the ACE2 enzymatic function, providing benefits such as reduced vasoconstriction and increased blood flow to infected lung tissue. By preserving ACE2 enzymatic activity, patients have an increased ability to maintain normal blood pressure and healthy blood flow even though their lung tissue is infected.
“The license of the ACE-MAB fusion protein from our partner Mabpharm provides Sorrento with yet another potential therapeutic agent to combat COVID-19,” said Dr. Henry Ji, Chairman and CEO of Sorrento Therapeutics. “Since the breakout of COVID-19, Sorrento has built a broad product candidate pipeline for the potential vaccination and treatment of COVID-19. We are looking forward to further evaluating the safety and efficacy in IND-enabling preclinical studies and clinical trials and making these potentially life-saving medicines available to the vast population affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
In 2019, Mabpharm completed a $175 million IPO on the Hong Kong Exchange. The company is developing a portfolio of nine biosimilars, three of them in Phase III trials. The biosimilars were initially discovered by Sinomab, which spun out Mabpharm to develop the drugs, while Sinomab continues to focus on its CRO/CMO operations. Mabpharm intends to make manufacturing of biologic drugs part of its business as well. It describes itself a company focused on developing and manufacturing new drugs and biosimilars that treat cancer and autoimmune diseases.
Sorrento says it is a clinical stage, antibody-centric, biopharmaceutical company developing new therapies to turn malignant cancers into manageable and possibly curable diseases. Sorrento's multimodal multipronged approach to fighting cancer is made possible by its immuno-oncology platforms, including key assets such as fully human antibodies, clinical stage immuno-cellular therapies, intracellular targeting antibodies, antibody-drug conjugates and a clinical stage oncolytic virus.