MorphoSys and m4 Award winner Cherry Biolabs Announce Hemibody Technology License Agreement

Cherry Biolabs

MorphoSys and the Würzburg-based start-up Cherry Biolabs signed a license agreement on the use of Cherry Biolabs' hemibody technology for multiple targets. Under the agreement, MorphoSys receives the rights to use Cherry Biolabs' multi-specific Hemibody technology for six exclusive targets.

Cancer is the second most common cause of death in Germany. Modern therapies with targeted antibodies bind to so-called antigens on cancer cells and cause the immune system to destroy the cancer. One obstacle is that there are few antigens that occur exclusively on the surface of cancer cells and thus healthy tissue cannot be clearly distinguished from diseased tissue. Undesirable side effects are the result. Using the body's own immune system to fight a rapidly growing cancer is an extremely promising therapeutic approach. For example, T-cell activating bispecific antibodies are expected to recruit and activate T-cells and direct the cytotoxic activity to the tumor cells.

The Hemibody Technology developed by Cherry Biolabs offers an innovative approach through dual targeting, and the license agreement enables MorphoSys to generate novel T-cell engaging medicines with higher precision and better safety profiles for the treatment of cancer patients.

Cherry Biolabs' Hemibody technology was first discovered by Prof. Gernot Stuhler and Dr. Thomas Bumm at the Julius-Maximilians-University of Würzburg, Germany and is funded by the "GO-Bio Gründungsoffensive Biotechnologie" from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. In 2013, the team won the m4 Award pre-seed competition with a total prize money of EUR 2.5 million, managed by BioM and funded by the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs. Cherry Biolabs' lead program is a Hemibody pair designed to eliminate Multiple Myeloma.

"Hemibodies are antibody fragments that gain T-cell engaging capabilities after binding to an antigen combination unique to tumor cells. Through its combinatorial pro-drug design, the Hemibody platform technology bears the potential to significantly increase the specificity of cancer treatments and reduce toxicity," added Cherry Biolabs founder and Chief Executive Officer Prof. Gernot Stuhler. "With MorphoSys, we have found a very strong and competent licensee embracing this new modality-we are confident that MorphoSys will bring this innovative concept into the clinic to make a difference for patients".

"As part of its internal research efforts, MorphoSys is continuously looking to add new cutting-edge technologies with the aim of generating differentiated, more efficacious and safer antibody-based therapeutics for its proprietary pipeline, and the licensing agreement with Cherry Biolabs is an important step towards developing new treatments for cancer patients with unmet medical needs", commented Jean-Paul Kress, M.D., Chief Executive Officer of MorphoSys. "The combination of MorphoSys' proven track record in antibody discovery and development and Cherry Biolabs' Hemibody technology has the potential to significantly broaden therapeutic approaches and improve patients' lives."

Financial details were not disclosed.