Biovation, a UK-based subsidiary of Germany's Merck KGaA, has secured another client for a technology designed to improve the properties of protein-based therapeutics.
US biotech company Centocor has signed up for Biovation's DeImmunisation service, which aims to strip out the elements of a protein that may cause an immune response without affecting its biological activity.
Immunogenicity can be a major problem in biopharmaceutical drug development, and is one of the reasons why, for example, companies exert considerable effort in developing humanised or fully human antibodies. However, all antibodies and proteins, even of human origin, can potentially cause an adverse immune response when administered to patients.
The DeImmunisation technology involves the identification and removal of T cell epitopes from the molecule. Since potentially immunogenic regions of the molecule are removed by single amino acid substitutions, immunogenicity can be eliminated while retaining the properties of the starting molecule, according to Biovation.
Under the terms of the agreement, Biovation will receive research revenues and, should Centocor selects proteins for further development, could earn license fees, milestone payments and royalties on product sales.