Invenra partners with U.K. company to research therapeutic antibodies

Invenra partners with U.K. company to research therapeutic antibodies

By Jeff Engel, Xconomy

Laboratory researching of influenza, some specimens and equipment

Invenra, one of the few companies working on new ways to make therapeutic monoclonal antibodies using cell-free protein expression, today announced a partnership with U.K.-based Oxford BioTherapeutics aimed at commercializing a new cancer treatment.

Madison, WI-based Invenra is one of the companies offering a way to make antibodies without using genetically modified cells such as E. coli or Chinese hamster ovary cells as the factories—a departure from the current standard. CA-based Sutro Biopharma is another company working on similar technology.

The Oxford deal is an important step for Invenra, a lean 12-employee outfit that has raised a shade over $6 million from investors since it was founded in 2011. Although Invenra could develop therapeutics in-house, it has focused on being a service company that helps drug makers find therapeutic antibodies. Oxford marks Invenra’s first customer, CEO Roland Green says.

“It’s the period where the company goes from being just R&D to we’re a commercial operation now, with revenue coming up and real customers,” Green says. “It feels great.”

Oxford, which has a U.S. office in San Jose, CA, is developing antibody drug conjugates to treat cancer, both through in-house research and development and in partnership with pharma companies like Seattle Genetics, ImmunoGen, and Amgen. None of the products in Oxford’s pipeline have advanced past a Phase 1 clinical trial, according to its website.

Oxford’s cancer target discovery platform uses one of the world’s largest proprietary databases of cancer cell membrane proteins, with more than 5,000 in the system, the company says. That theoretically should help improve its odds of finding cancer targets with the best antibody drug conjugate activity. Read more …