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[2023 JP Morgan Healthcare Conference] ABL Bio aims to license out 2 bispecific antibodies after Sanofi deal

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — By Lee Han-soo/Korea Biomedical Review correspondent – ABL Bio said it would seek licensing-out deals for two bispecific antibody oncology candidates, taking advantage of its $1 billion mega-deal with Sanofi during 2022 J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference a year earlier.

In January 2022, the Korean biotech firm signed an export contract for ABL-301, a drug candidate for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, with Sanofi.

The deal included a $75 million upfront payment and up to $985 million for each stage of clinical development as a milestone.

ABL Bio already received $120 million for completing the preclinical trial and entering phase 1 clinical trials.

ABL Bio CEO Lee Sang-hoon explains the company’s platform and future goals during an interview with Korea Biomedical Review at a hotel in San Francisco on Thursday.

“As the deal with Sanofi progresses, the status of ABL Bio in the eyes of big global pharma has changed a lot,” ABL Bio CEO Lee Sang-hoon said during an interview with Korea Biomedical Review on the sidelines of 2023 J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference. 

“Many global pharmaceutical companies have been saying that the Sanofi deal itself was a good one.”

Global pharmaceutical companies leading the field of blood–brain barrier (BBB) shuttle, such as Genentech, Roche, J&J, and AbbVie, seemed to acknowledge ABL Bio as an up-and-coming company. He added.

ABL Bio now seeks to license out its oncology treatment candidates –ABL-503 and ABL-111 — this year.

ABL503 is a bispecific antibody that combines the capabilities of PD-L1 checkpoint pathway inhibition with 4-1BB agonistic activity to overcome the specific limitations of PD-L1 immunotherapy and 4-1BB related toxicity. The candidate is under phase 1 trials in solid cancer across the U.S. 

ABL111 is a bispecific antibody that targets Claudin18.2, a tumor antigen overexpressed in gastric- and pancreatic-specific cancer, and 4-1BB, a co-stimulatory receptor with the ability to induce potent anti-tumor activity. This candidate is also in phase 1 trials at 18 clinical sites in the U.S. and China to treat solid tumors, including gastric cancer, gastroesophageal junction carcinoma, esophageal adenocarcinoma, and pancreatic ductal carcinoma.

While many developers of 4-1BB-related treatment are showing poor clinical results, ABL Bio’s ABL-4-1BB Grabody-B platform with good prospects will catch the attention of global pharmaceutical companies, Lee added.

According to Lee, ABL Bio had several meetings during JPM 2023 regarding the two candidates.

I-Mab Biopharma, ABL Bio’s partner and the Nasdaq-listed biotech firm, plans to unveil the clinical results of ABL-111 during the 2023 American Society of Clinical Oncology conference in June.

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