MorphoSys has signed an agreement with Vivoryon Therapeutics to obtain an exclusive option to license the latter’s small molecule glutaminyl-peptide cyclotransferase-like (QPCTL) inhibitors for developing oncology treatments.
The option obtained by MorphoSys gives it the rights to globally develop and commercialise Vivoryon’s family of QPCTL inhibitors, including the latter’s lead compound PQ912.
Currently, PQ912 had completed a phase 2a clinical trial in Alzheimer’s disease with recent preclinical data indicating that the compound could represent a novel approach for the treatment of cancer. The orally available compounds of Vivoryon target the QPCTL enzyme, which has been demonstrated to be a modulator of the CD47-SIRP alpha interaction.
As per the terms of the deal, the company will invest €15m (£13.49m) for a minority stake in Vivoryon.
If MorphoSys opts to exercise the option, it will have to pay an option fee, and also to milestone payments and royalties to Vivoryon.
Vivoryon CEO Ulrich Dauer said: “As a leading company for antibody and protein technologies with a strong oncology focus, MorphoSys is the ideal partner for us. For Vivoryon this is a strategic alliance to exploit the potential of our first-in-class, highly specific and potent small molecules in combination with therapeutic antibodies for a targeted range of cancer indications.
“While remaining strongly committed to our development plans in Alzheimer’s disease, we are delivering on our strategy to extend the potential of our technology to immuno-oncology.”
MorphoSys, during the option period, will undertake preclinical validation experiments on the QPCTL inhibitors. Included in these is an evaluation of the potential benefits of combining them with its own candidate tafasitamab (MOR208), which is presently in late-stage development for the treatment of relapsed/refractory diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (r/r DLBCL).
MorphoSys CEO Simon Moroney said: “A number of studies suggest that the CD47-SIRP alpha interaction may be of central importance to the activity of some anti-cancer antibodies. In this regard, securing rights to Vivoryon’s estate of compounds in oncology makes strong strategic sense for us.
“In particular, we are looking forward to exploring the potential for synergy with tafasitamab (MOR208), our most advanced drug candidate. If successful, the use of these orally formulated QPCTL inhibitors may open the way to combinations with other anti-cancer antibodies aiming at boosting their cell killing activity.”