MorphoSys, MD Anderson join forces to develop novel oncology therapeutics

MorphoSys AG and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center today announced a long-term strategic alliance for the discovery and development of novel therapeutic antibodies against cancer.

MorphoSys will work with MD Anderson’s Oncology Research for Biologics and Immunotherapy Translation (ORBIT) unit, a platform of MD Anderson’s Moon Shots Program with a combination of industry and academic science expertise in the development of monoclonal antibodies.

Collaborating on numerous targets in a variety of oncology indications, the partners will work together to identify, validate and develop novel anti-cancer antibodies through to clinical proof of concept. MorphoSys will apply its proprietary Ylanthia technology to generate and optimize fully human antibody candidates against jointly selected targets. The parties will collaborate in target validation and preclinical drug development to quickly bring selected candidates into the clinic.

“We are excited to join forces with MD Anderson, one of the world’s most respected cancer research and care institutions, to work on bringing cancer treatment to a new level,” said Simon Moroney, Ph.D., chief executive officer of MorphoSys. “This partnership combines MD Anderson’s expertise with our strength in developing innovative antibodies based on our Ylanthia technology platform. This deal is another step in the execution of our strategy of building an oncology pipeline of optimized therapeutic antibodies against innovative targets, with the goal of improving outcomes for cancer patients.”

MD Anderson also will conduct early clinical trials of therapeutic antibody candidates in collaboration with MorphoSys with the goal of obtaining proof of concept, utilizing its translational medicine capabilities to optimize development.

“ORBIT is committed to bringing ground-breaking monoclonal antibodies into the clinic that can significantly benefit cancer patients”, said Carlo Toniatti, M.D., Ph.D., executive director of ORBIT. "This alliance is designed to complement our drug discovery and clinical strengths and quickly and effectively develop potentially disruptive anti-cancer therapies for patients worldwide.”

The long-term collaboration, licensing and co-development alliance will embrace multiple targets and programs. During the five-year research phase of the partnership, the parties will select innovative targets and apply their respective expertise and technologies to generate and validate antibody candidates against these targets.

During the development phase of the collaboration, the parties will jointly develop antibodies through clinical proof of concept. Thereafter, MorphoSys has options to continue development of selected antibodies through later clinical stages.

ORBIT is a novel platform with the mission of making MD Anderson a recognized leader in the discovery and development of novel monoclonal antibodies.  The ORBIT team focuses on combining scientific excellence with industry standards and is committed to accelerate and execute the translation of novel discoveries into clinically relevant anti-cancer mABs.  ORBIT’s scientific directors are Jeffrey Molldrem, M.D., professor of Stem Cell Transplantation and Cellular Therapy, and Michael Curran, Ph.D., assistant professor of Immunology.