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베링거, 에나라와 암 특이적 ‘Dark Antigen’ “옵션 딜” - 바이오스펙테이터

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베링거, 에나라와 암 특이적 ‘Dark Antigen’ “옵션 딜”

입력 2021-01-13 15:47 수정 2021-01-13 15:47

바이오스펙테이터 박동영 기자

Dark Antigen 발굴 플랫폼 ‘EDAPT’…폐암, 위장관암 대상 TCR 면역항암제 및 암 치료 백신 개발 목표

베링거인겔하임(Boehringer Ingelheim)이 정상세포에서는 발현이 억제되지만 암세포에서만 특이적으로 발현이 활성화되는 새로운 종류의 암 항원 타깃 면역항암제 개발에 나선다.

베링거인겔하임은 지난 12일(현지시간) 에나라바이오(Enara Bio)의 Dark Antigen 발굴 플랫폼 ‘EDAPT(Enara Dark Antigen Platform Technology)’를 기반으로 신규 면역항암제 타깃을 발굴하기 위해 에나라바이오와 라이선스 및 옵션 계약을 체결했다고 밝혔다.

베링거인겔하임은 에나라에게 계약금과 함께 Dark Antigen 연구 및 비임상개발에 따른 마일스톤, 라이선스 비용 등을 지급하기로 했다. 단 계약규모는 공개하지 않았다. 옵션 행사후 베링거인겔하임은 에나라에게 임상, 허가, 상업화에 따른 마일스톤과 판매로열티를 포함해 최소 1억690만달러 이상을 지급한다.

Dark Antigen은 새로운 종류의 암 항원으로 정상세포에서는 발현되지 않지만 암세포의 후성유전학적 변화(Epigenetics Alteration)에 의해 활성화되어 발현된다. 에나라는 Dark Antigen의 장점으로 3가지를 꼽았다. 첫째, Dark Antigen은 일반적으로 체내 면역세포들에 의해 인식되지 않기 때문에 기존 암 관련 항원(Cancer-associated Antigen)보다 면역원성(Immunogenicity)이 높다. 둘째, Dark Antigen은 특정 암 종에서 과발현하며 상당수 많은 암 환자들이 이를 발현하고 있기 때문에 다양한 환자에게 적용 가능하다. 셋째, 다양한 Dark Antigen을 동시에 타깃하는 면역치료제를 통해 높은 항종양 효과를 기대할 수 있다.

에나라의 EDAPT는 생물정보학(Bioinformatics), 면역펩티도믹스(Immunopeptidomics), 암 생물학(Tumor Biology) 등을 통해 TCR 기반(T-cell Receptor) 면역항암제 및 암 치료백신 개발에 적합한 항원을 발굴하는 플랫폼이다.

베링거인겔하임은 자사의 항암바이러스(Oncolytic Virus), 암 백신(Cancer Vaccine) 등의 면역종양(Immuno-oncology) 프로그램과 에나라의 암 항원 발굴 기술을 접목해 치료가 어려운 폐암과 위장관암(Gastrointestinal Cancer) 신약을 개발하는 것을 목표로 한다.

계약에 따라 베링거인겔하임은 에나라가 발굴하고 검증한(Validated) Dark Antigen에 대한 라이선스인(License-in) 옵션을 갖게된다. 이후 베링거인겔하임은 라이선스인 한 Dark Antigen 기반 면역항암제의 모든 비임상 및 임상개발, 상업화 등을 담당한다. 발굴한 항원에 대한 권리는 에나라가 지속적으로 갖는다.

조나단 세지윅(Jonathon Sedgwick) 베링거인겔하임 부사장은 “에나라의 Dark Antigen 개발 플랫폼은 기존 프로테오믹스(Proteomics)의 한계를 넘는 신규 타깃 발굴 플랫폼이다”며 “이 플랫폼을 기반으로 TCR 기반 면역항암제 및 암 백신을 개발해 파이프라인을 확장할 것”이라고 말했다.

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