Abzena and Baylor Scott & White Research Institute Team up to Form Den


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Abzena and Baylor Scott & White Research Institute Team up to Form Denceptor Therapeutics to Develop Novel Immunotherapies


Cambridge, UK and Dallas, US  –  Abzena plc and the Baylor Scott & White Research Institute announce the formation of a joint venture company, Denceptor Therapeutics Limited.

Denceptor will develop Abzena inside immunotherapeutic products to treat cancer and autoimmune diseases using Baylor Scott & White Research Institute’s dendritic cell receptor-targeting antibodies. These antibodies will be humanized using Abzena’s Composite Human Antibody™ technology to reduce unwanted drug immunogenicity. Denceptor will operate as a virtual business and outsource its development and manufacturing activities. Baylor Scott & White Research Institute and Abzena will be among the outsourced service providers.

The joint venture has secured the option to exclusively license antibodies from Baylor Scott & White Research Institute with a sub-license to the humanized versions of the antibodies created by Abzena. The antibodies will deliver antigens to specific receptors on dendritic cells to induce or suppress an immune response in order to treat a variety of cancers and autoimmune diseases.

Denceptor has been incorporated as a private limited company in Cambridge, UK. It will seek third party funding to support the clinical development of the lead product, an HPV E6/E7 immunotherapy for head and neck cancer and other HPV-associated malignancies. Such funding will also be used to progress other preclinical stage programmes into clinical development and to cover the general running costs of the business. Abzena has the potential to receive future licence income from the separately funded development of these Abzena Inside products.

Dr Kevin FitzGerald has been appointed CEO of Denceptor and will be supported by Dr Matthew Baker, as CSO. Kevin has previously held CEO positions at PhosImmune Inc, Activiomics Limited, F-star GmbH and Isogenica Ltd. Matthew was the founder of Antitope, which is part of the Abzena Group, and is currently the CSO at Abzena.

Dr John Burt, CEO of Abzena, said:

“We have a longstanding relationship with Baylor and have always admired the work they do and recognise their significant expertise in the field of dendritic cell research. We believe that through this joint venture Abzena can make a significant contribution to the development of new, smart, immunotherapies to tackle difficult to treat conditions such as cancer and autoimmune diseases.”

Dr Gerard Zurawski, Director of the Center for Biotechnology at Baylor Scott & White Research Institute, said:

“Abzena has a track record of successfully humanizing antibodies, and its portfolio of Abzena Inside products and the companies that want to work with the team demonstrate this expertise. We believe that the respective strengths of our institution and Abzena working together in the form of Denceptor, with Kevin’s leadership and expert team, will generate exciting results.”

Dr Kevin FitzGerald, CEO, Denceptor Therapeutics Limited, added:

“The dendritic cell-targeting technology that has been developed at BSWRI’s Immunology Research Program offers exciting opportunities for therapeutic intervention in a wide variety of life-limiting and life-threatening diseases. I look forward to progressing this approach to establish new treatment options that will improve patients’ lives.”

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