BiTE therapy (short for Bi-specific T-cell engagers) is an artificial class of bispecific monoclonal antibodies that have the ability to bind two different types of antigen. It is a type of immunotherapy where BITEs are capable of binding to two different targets, therefore, building a bridge between T cells and tumor cells, promoting the cytotoxic action of T cells against tumor cells.
The two separate antibodies are linked through a flexible peptide or bands of amino acids, binding to the CD3 on the T cell surface and an antigen on the tumor surface. BiTE antibody constructs are engineered to potentially target any type of tumor.
The new collaboration will investigate this novel immunotherapy to target myelodysplastic syndrome. This disease is characterized by a defective production of healthy blood cells, leading to the formation of abnormal cells encountered both in blood and bone marrow. The American Cancer Society estimated that in the United States, myelodysplastic syndromes occur in about 13,000 new cases each year. The disease affects mostly older adults and 20 to 30% of patients develop Acute Myeloid Leukemia.
The collaboration is developed under MD Anderson’s Moon Shots Program – a program developed to accelerate the translation of basic cancer research findings to clinical therapeutics. The new agreement established that Amgen holds all commercialization rights while MD Anderson benefits from successful attainment of specified objectives.
Guillermo Garcia-Manero, M.D., professor of Leukemia at MD Anderson and program MD Anderson’s Moon Shots Program director commented in a press release “This is a unique collaboration that explores this therapy for its potential in treating a disorder that affects thousands of people each year. At MD Anderson we have unrivaled proteomics capabilities to explore new targets for this disease, and this novel approach may very well open up new potential treatments for our patients.”
Sean E. Harper, M.D., executive vice president of Research and Development at Amgen also noted, “We are excited about the new research opportunities this collaboration will open up in further exploring the potential of BiTE® technology. BiTE® antibody constructs represent an innovative immunotherapy approach that helps the body’s immune system target cancer cells. MD Anderson is a great partner in our quest to find potential new treatments for patients with serious illnesses.”
“This long-term collaboration between leading scientists at MD Anderson and Amgen takes advantage of significant advances in technologies available for target discovery through the MD Anderson Moon Shots Program. The agreement covers the full scope of clinical development from identifying targets for this therapy in MDS to developing fully tested and approved new therapies,” added Samir Hanash, M.D., Ph.D., professor of Clinical Cancer Prevention and director, the Red and Charline McCombs Institute for the Early Detection and Treatment of Cancer at MD Anderson.