Germany calling with $790m deal for Crescendo

Crescendo Biologics in Cambridge is set to earn mega-dollars from a multi-target drug discovery collaboration with German influencer BioNTech.

The partners are to develop novel immunotherapies, including mRNA-based antibodies and engineered cell therapies, for the treatment of patients with cancer and other diseases, leveraging Crescendo’s proprietary Humabody® VH platform.

Crescendo will receive $40 million upfront, as well as research funding, and is eligible to receive development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments up to a total of more than $750 million, plus sales royalties.

The initial term of the collaboration is three years, during which time Crescendo will contribute its unique, proprietary, transgenic platform to deliver fully human heavy-chain antibody domains (Humabody® VH) against targets nominated by BioNTech. 

Humabodies represent a novel class of therapeutics that retain the high-affinity binding and specificity of conventional therapeutic antibodies while providing additional advantages such as small size, enhanced tissue and tumour penetration, stability and molecular simplicity due to the lack of a light chain. In particular, the modular nature of Humabodies make them ideally suited for the development of multi-target immunotherapies.

Theodora Harold, CEO at Crescendo Biologics, said: “To collaborate with BioNTech and their world-class team is a transformational opportunity for Crescendo. 

“We are looking forward to further leveraging our clinically validated Humabody VH platform within mRNA therapeutics to develop better treatment options for patients.” 

Ugur Sahin, chief executive and co-founder of BioNTech, added: “Crescendo’s platform provides excellent properties for exploiting novel targets and target combinations which we believe has great potential for the development of multi-specific mRNA and engineered cell-based therapies in a variety of disease areas.

“We are excited to begin working with Crescendo to further strengthen and expand our multimodal immunotherapy portfolio and deliver breakthrough precision medicines for patients.”