Genmab unveils novel platform to enhance antibody therapeutics

It has new platforms in pipeline but writes down its Minnesota facility to cut operating costs

The company said HexaBody is a novel technology platform that allows the creation of differentiated antibody therapeutics by enhancing the natural target killing abilities of antibodies in a fundamentally new way.

It will be used to create novel differentiated antibody therapeutics, to improve the efficacy of existing antibody products, and to potentially “repurpose” drug candidates that were unsuccessful in previous clinical trials due to lack of potency.

Antibodies have a natural ability to eliminate pathogens and tumour cells by various cytotoxic mechanisms. The HexaBody platform strengthens that killing ability of antibodies while retaining regular structure and specificity.

In basic terms, the technology produces antibodies with a better ability to cluster, which provides a better binding site, improving the killing efficiency. As a result, antibodies that have previously not shown this killing ability can be given it, said the company.

The technology has the potential to enhance antibody therapeutics for a broad range of applications in cancer and infectious diseases.

‘This innovative technology will provide Genmab and our potential partners with the possibility to improve upon existing products and thereby extend their life cycles,’ said Jan van de Winkel, CEO of Genmab.

‘We believe the HexaBody platform provides cutting edge technology and the opportunity to create fundamentally new products, robustly enhance existing products, and to repurpose discontinued products,’ he added.

This innovative technology will provide Genmab and our potential partners with the possibility to improve upon existing products and thereby extend their life cycles

The company said in the past year it had lowered its operating expenditure and with future milestone payments and licensing deals, it expects to turn to profitable outcomes in the near future.

The company’s first marketed antibody, ofatumumab (Arzerra), approved to treat chronic lymphocytic leukemia in patients who are refractory to fludarabine and alemtuzumab, will continue its worldwide rollout and has ‘blockbuster potential in cancer and autoimmune diseases,’ said the company.

Its first-in-class antibody daratumumab, which targets CD38 molecules on multiple myeloma cells, is showing good early results as a monotherapy and collaborations are ongoing with Janssen Biotech.

Genmab's next generation antibody technologies focus on achieving increased bisospecificity and toxicity, and they are expected to provide a steady stream of future product candidates. ‘These technologies will enable Genmab to generate novel “leapfrog” products,’ said van de Winkel.

The company has alliances with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies such as GSK, Janssen and Seattle Genetics, and partnering of innovative product candidates and technologies is key to its strategy.

Last week, Genmab announced the reduction in value of its Minnesota manufacturing facility with a view to complete a sale in 2013. The company has been looking to sell the facility, which is currently costing US$7m annually in up-keep, for use as a biotech plant.

‘There was a lot of activity and interest in the facility over recent months, but no firm offer has been received. Due to the continued uncertainty, we have taken the step to write down the facility to zero and will now enter into an aggressive sales process with the aim of closing a transaction within the next few months,’ said CFO, David Eatwell.

The fair value of the facility less costs to sell has been reduced from $58m to zero, this results in the recognition of a non-cash impairment charge of approximately DKK331m at a US$/DKK exchange rate of 5.7054.

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