Aptamer Group and PinotBio extend collaboration for the development of Optimer-drug conjugates

Aptamer Group, the developer of novel Optimer binders to enable innovation in the life sciences industry, has extended its collaboration agreement with PinotBio (Gyeonggi-do, Korea), a clinical-stage oncology-focused biotechnology company, to develop four new Optimer-drug conjugates for use as precision chemotherapeutics. 

The partnership was first initiated in June 2021 targeting haematological cancers, and the first phase of the project demonstrated the viability of combining Optimer technology with PinotBio’s proprietary linker-payload antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) platform for targeted drug delivery to cancer cells and the effective killing of the target cells by chemotherapy, has been successfully completed. 

As part of the new agreement, Aptamer and PinotBio will now work together to develop Optimer-drug conjugates as novel format ADC alternatives to four specified non-blood-based cancer biomarkers: Nectin-4, Tissue Factor, CEACAM5 and CD73. These biomarkers offer the potential to target solid tumours, which respond poorly to chemotherapy, potentially producing therapeutics with a smaller size that enables increased tumour penetration compared to standard antibody-based ADCs.  

Aptamer Group will develop Optimer delivery vehicles for the specified targets and provide these to PinotBio for use with their payload and linker technologies. PinotBio will generate the full Optimer-drug conjugates and perform initial animal studies to evaluate the conjugate molecules and their potential to progress as clinical candidates. Both parties will jointly own the developed assets, with each party retaining ownership over the conjugate’s individual components. If successful, these therapeutic modalities will open opportunities for downstream value creation in the form of licensing fees, milestones, and or royalties. 

The Optimer binder in the Optimer drug conjugate acts as a specific targeting vehicle, with tailored target specificity and affinity, a tuneable half-life, and simple chemistry for the site-specific conjugation of payloads and their targeted delivery to the site-of-action. PinotBio’s linker-payload platform has shown the potential to overcome tumour resistance and safety concerns even at relatively high doses in non-human primate toxicological studies. Targeting the drug directly to the site-of-action using these combined technologies could limit side effects in non-cancerous tissues to provide a larger therapeutic index for the drug than alternatives.

Dr Arron Tolley, Chief Executive Officer of Aptamer Group, commented: “The data from the first phase of this work, combining our Optimer technology with PinotBio’s linker and chemotherapeutic payloads, were very promising and demonstrated the power of Optimer binders to develop effective enabling technologies resulting in drug-conjugate development targeting different disease states. As a result, we are very excited to be able to extend this collaboration with PinotBio to develop Optimer-drug conjugates as novel cancer treatments. We are encouraged by the potential of these novel format drugs to make a difference and improve the quality of cancer patient lives through reduced side effects. We look forward to providing updates in due course.”