This summer, the U.S.-based biotechnology company Mage Biologics Inc (“Mage Bio”) was formed as a collaboration between the Swiss specialty pharma company Tillotts Pharma and the international venture capital firm TVM Capital Life Science. Up to USD 28 million will be jointly invested in the new company, in which an antibody technology has been in-licensed from Inven2, based on research carried out in Professor Jan Terje Andersen’s lab.
“Mage Bio is developing a tailored monoclonal antibody that will be administered non-invasively. This is a completely new and innovative approach to the treatment of a serious chronic disease that causes inflammation and ulcers on the inner lining of the large intestine, which results in stomach pain and the formation of sores. There is clearly a need for a new treatment option for this patient group, and it will mean a lot for the patients if Mage Bio succeeds,” says Jan Terje Andersen.
He is Professor of Biomedical Innovation at the University of Oslo and is Head of the Research group “The Laboratory of Adaptive Immunity and Homeostasis”, which is part of both the University of Oslo and Oslo University Hospital.
Mage Bio plans to manufacture clinical-grade material this year, with the aim to file a clinal trial application in 2024. The focus indication will be ulcerative colitis, a chronic inflammatory bowel disease that impacts millions of patients all over the world. The humanized monoclonal antibody is bioengineered for optimal potency and tissue penetration and will be orally administered.
He says that Tillotts in-licensed the technology already in 2018, and that it has now been re-licensed to Mage Bio. In addition, there has been a preclinical collaboration between Tillotts and his research group leading to very encouraging data.
Professor Jan Terje Andersen and his colleagues have received an important validation of their antibody technology through the license with Mage. Photo: Inven2.
This is confirmed by Johannes Spleiss, who is Head of Scientific Affairs at Tillotts and CEO of Mage Biologics:
-When we first met Professor Andersen’s team, we needed help in an area where there were very few experts globally. They had set up a unique cellular assay that we needed to characterize our antibody candidates. We soon realized that the technology they developed, in part using this assay, was ideal for tackling one of the challenges faced when delivering antibodies orally. It only took us a couple of months to license and incorporate the technology into our lead antibody. Our subsequent studies have confirmed the usefulness of this technology. The collaboration with Professor Andersen’s lab was very effective and a good experience.
Johannes Spleiss is CEO of Mage and Head of Scientific Affairs at Tillotts Pharma. He is very content with the collaboration with Professor Andersen’s lab. Photo: Tillots Pharma.
- Read the press release relating to the original licence here.
- Read the press release about Mage Biologics here.
The platform technology developed by Andersen and his colleagues is versatile and can be used to tailor-design the effector functions, pharmacokinetic properties, and tissue penetration of monoclonal antibodies. This can lead to potent and long-acting antibodies.
”The fact that Tillotts has re-licensed the technology to the new company Mage Bio is an important validation of the platform technology developed by Andersen and his team. However, they have only in-licensed a limited, exclusive part of this technology that is linked to their specific antibody. As such, there is an enormous potential for combining it with other monoclonal antibodies directed against a range of different targets,” says Ken Rosendal.
Rosendal is a Business Development and Licensing Executive at Inven2. Together with lawyer Helle Thorsen, Patent Manager Kirsten Stangeby and Gerbrand Koster, who is Project Manager for Andersen’s inventions, he has worked on the agreement between Tillotts and Andersen’s lab.
”The collaboration with Tillotts is an excellent example of how in-depth academic insight and technological advancement can fuel a preclinical development process. It will be extremely interesting to follow Mage Bio’s progress in development of this particular antibody for the treatment of ulcerative colitis,” says Rosendal.
Ken Rosendal is a Business Development and Licensing Executive at Inven2.
- In 2017, Tillotts entered into an agreement with Andersen’s lab on the implementation of a research project.
- Their cooperation was expanded and a new antibody technology, developed by the lab of Andersen, was benchmarked as part of the research project.
- A licence agreement on the antibody technology was signed in January 2018.
- The antibody technology has been developed by Stian Foss, Inger Sandlie and Jan Terje Andersen.
- Funding from the Research Council of Norway and the South-Eastern Norway Regional Health Authority has played a decisive role in the development of the technology platform.
- The first scientific manuscript that describes development of the technology and its versatility is expected to be published in autumn 2023.
About The Laboratory of Adaptive Immunity and Homeostasis
Jan Terje Andersen is professor in biomedical innovation at University of Oslo, and a research group leader at Oslo University Hospital. He is heading the Laboratory of Adaptive Immunity and Homeostasis, which is a member of PRIMA – a Center of Excellence in Precision Immunotherapy funded by the Research Council of Norway.
His laboratory is studying the cellular processes and molecular interplay underlying the functions of the two most abundant proteins in blood, albumin and IgG. By combining structural and biophysical approaches with cellular and in vivo studies, the in-depth knowledge is used in design of novel molecules with improved functions. The laboratory is extensively collaborating with biotech and pharmaceutical companies, and is the research group at the University of Oslo and Oslo University Hospital with most registered innovations at Inven2. Andersen has obtained the Fridtjof Nansen Prize for Early Career Achievements, Oslo University Hospital Early Career Award and is an alumni member of the Young Academy of Norway. He is also a co-founder of Authera AS.
See their web page for more information: The Laboratory of Adaptive Immunity and Homeostasis
About Mage Biologics Inc.
Mage Biologics is a special purpose company created to develop a novel, orally administered monoclonal antibody to clinical proof of concept for the treatment of ulcerative colitis. Mage Biologics is jointly funded by TVM Life Science Innovation II and Tillotts Pharma and is led by an experienced management team.
About Tillotts Pharma
Tillotts Pharma AG, part of the Japanese Zeria Group, is a fast-growing specialty pharma company with close to 400 employees in Switzerland and abroad. Tillotts is dedicated to the development, acquisition and commercialization of innovative pharmaceutical products for the digestive system. Tillotts successfully markets its own products for the treatment of IBD and Clostridioides difficile infection (CDI) as well as in-licensed products in around 65 countries through its affiliates within Europe and a network of partners throughout the world. See their web page for more information: Tillots Pharma
About TVM Capital Life Science
TVM Capital Life Science is a leading international venture capital firm focused on investing in life science innovations. The company has a highly experienced transatlantic investment team and approximately $900 million under management. TVM’s portfolio focuses on therapeutics and medical technologies from North America and the EU that represent differentiated first-in-class or best-in-class assets with the potential to transform standard of care. TVM pursues a unique two-pronged strategy, financing innovative early-stage therapeutics through a single asset company approach (Project-Focused Company, PFC) that leverages the firm’s strategic relationship with global pharmaceutical firm, Eli Lilly and Company. TVM also invests in differentiated commercial-stage medical technologies and late clinical-stage therapeutics. With its early-stage investments, TVM follows several key principles, which include increasing capital efficiency, streamlining development timelines and soliciting buyer input at the time of investment. This strategy has been validated through successful exits such as AurKa Pharma, Inc. and Acanthas Pharma, Inc. The TVM investment team has worked together for over a decade to effectively utilize this innovative approach to maximize returns for investors and finance new therapies and technologies to meaningfully improve patient lives. See their web page for more information:TVM Capital Life Science
Inven2 is the technology transfer office for the University of Oslo, Oslo University Hospital and all hospitals in the South-East region of Norway. Inven2’s mission is to turn excellent science into products mainly in the field of life sciences. The various institutions together, disclose around 200 unique inventions annually. In 2022, Inven2 delivered 51 new patent filings, 15 license agreements, and 4 start-up companies. As of today, Inven2 has a portfolio of 50 technology start-ups, with a combined value of 11 billion NOK. Inven2’s other business area is clinical contract partnerships with pharmaceutical companies running clinical trials at the Oslo University Hospital, the South-Eastern Health Municipal and the University Hospital of Northern Norway