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The companies will collaborate on the production of a novel anti-SARS-CoV-2 immunoadhesin in iBio’s FastPharming manufacturing system.
iBio, a biotechnology innovator and biologics contract manufacturing organization, has entered into an exclusive worldwide license agreement with Planet Biotechnology, a biotechnology company specializing in a plant-based expression system for producing antibody and receptor/ligand-Fc products, for the development of Planet’s COVID-19 therapeutic candidate, ACE2-Fc, according to an Aug. 28, 2020 press release.
Under the agreement, iBio obtained an exclusive license to the therapeutic candidate, and Planet is eligible to receive certain pre-specified payments upon achievement of clinical development milestones.
ACE2-Fc is a recombinant protein that is made up of the human angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) fused to a human immunoglobulin G Fc fragment (Fc). As an immunoadhesin, ACE2-Fc targets coronavirus virions directly. It uses the ACE2 extracellular domain as a decoy to bind the spike protein and block infection of healthy cells. Meanwhile, the fused Fc domain prolongs the life of the protein in circulation. The product is designed to act as a traditional neutralizing antibody while potentially limiting the potential for the virions to escape, given that ACE2 is also a target receptor for coronavirus for cell entry. In-vitro studies conducted by Planet have demonstrated that ACE2-Fc blocks SARS-CoV-2 virus from infecting Vero E6 cells.
“We see tremendous opportunity in our partnership with Planet to develop this novel immunoadhesin molecule as a potential COVID-19 disease treatment,” said Tom Isett, chairman and CEO of iBio, in the press release. “We believe the molecule may be effective against SARS-CoV-2 infection, and that it has the potential to be rapidly re-designed in the FastPharming System to address mutations in the current virus, if any, as well as future coronaviral diseases.”
“iBio is an ideal partner for Planet, offering experience in manufacturing plant-based biopharmaceuticals and rapid scale-up capabilities. We are eager to support iBio in the pre-clinical development of ACE2-Fc,” added Elliot Fineman, Planet’s president and CEO, in the press release.