China biotech Essex Bio signs $3.5M antibodies deal with U.S. antibody specialist Abpro

Synthetic biology specialist Abpro has signed a deal to develop cancer and eye drugs with Chinese biotech Essex Bio as both companies look to share their research experience to broaden their therapeutic outlook.

Woburn, MA-based Abpro and Essex will co-develop a number of monoclonal antibodies in immuno-oncology and ophthalmology through Abpro's DiversImmune drug platform.

Abpro received a $3.5 million equity investment from Essex Bio and an undisclosed amount from affiliates as part of the agreement.

"This partnership with Essex Bio adds further validation to our discovery platform and provides an opportunity to advance novel therapeutics with one of the largest ophthalmology companies in China, which is one of the largest pharmaceutical markets in the world," said Ian Chan, CEO of Abpro.

"This agreement results in a strong partnership with R&D efforts and significant capabilities both in the United States and China."

Essex Bio specializes in biopharma drug development based on recombinant DNA technology, with a focus on the treatment and healing of surface wounds and eye wounds. The biotech is also working on bFGF products for new indications, as well as other ophthalmic pharmaceutical projects.

"Abpro's unique proprietary platform has proven to be successful against traditionally difficult targets for antibodies and offers significant potential for us to co-develop novel therapeutic treatments for immuno-oncology and ophthalmic diseases," added Patrick Ngiam, founder and chairman of Essex Bio.

"We look forward to leveraging this platform to advance monoclonal assets into the clinic and onto commercialization."

Under the terms of the deal, the companies will develop a number of assets through preclinical and clinical development and later seek commercial authorizations.

Essex Bio holds commercial rights to these assets in China while Abpro retains commercialization rights in the U.S. and rest of world, excluding China, with cross-royalties from each region.

Abpro already has a number of Big Pharma deals in place, including Amgen ($AMGN), Eli Lilly ($LLY), Sanofi-Genzyme ($SNY) and others, using its DiversImmune platform.

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