Abzena and Baylor Scott & White Research Institute team up to form Denceptor Therapeutics to develop novel immunotherapies - Abzena

Abzena and Baylor Scott & White Research Institute team up to form Denceptor Therapeutics to develop novel immunotherapies

Cambridge, UK and Dallas, US  – July 2016 – Abzena plc (AIM: ABZA, “Abzena” or the “Group”) and the Baylor Scott & White Research Institute announce the formation of a joint venture company, Denceptor Therapeutics Limited (“Denceptor”).

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.”


Abzena plc
John Burt, Chief Executive Officer Julian Smith, Chief Financial Officer
+44 1223 903498
Cenkos Securities (Nominated Adviser and Broker)
Ivonne Cantu
+44 20 7397 8900
N+1 Singer (Joint Broker)
Aubrey Powell / Liz Yong
+44 20 7496 3000
Instinctif Partners
Melanie Toyne Sewell / Rozi Morris +44 20 7457 2020

About Abzena
Abzena (AIM: ABZA) provides proprietary technologies and complementary services to enable the development and manufacture of biopharmaceutical products, a growing area that requires specialist knowledge and expertise. The Group has a global customer base which includes the majority of the top 20 biopharmaceutical companies as well as large and small biotech companies and academic groups.

The term “Abzena inside” is used by Abzena to describe products that have been created using its proprietary technologies and are being developed by its partners, and include Composite Human Antibodies™ and ThioBridge™ Antibody Drug Conjugates (ADCs). Abzena has the potential to earn future licence fees, milestone payments and/or royalties on “Abzena inside” products.

Abzena offers the following services and technologies across its principal sites in Cambridge (UK), San Diego, California (USA) and Bristol, Pennsylvania (USA).

  • Immunogenicity assessment, protein engineering to create humanized antibodies and deimmunised therapeutic proteins, and cell line development for manufacture.
  • Contract process development and manufacture of biopharmaceuticals, including monoclonal antibodies, recombinant proteins, vaccines, and gene therapy and cell therapy products, for preclinical and clinical studies.
  • Proprietary site-specific conjugation technologies for antibody drug conjugate development and solutions for optimizing the therapeutic properties of biopharmaceuticals.
  • Contract chemistry and bioconjugation business focused on ADCs and is establishing the capability to manufacture ADCs to GMP standards.

For more information, please see www.abzena.com

About Baylor Scott & White Research Institute
Baylor Scott & White Research Institute is the result of the 2016 integration of the legacy research programs of Baylor Health Care System and Scott & White Healthcare, the two health systems that merged in 2013 to form Baylor Scott & White Health. While its name and integration are new, the Research Institute traces its history back to the 1984 establishment of its predecessor, Baylor Research Institute. As the entity designated by the Baylor Scott & White Board of Directors to administer all research across the system, Baylor Scott & White Research Institute promotes and supports our scientists’ efforts to bring innovative treatments from the laboratory workbench to the patient bedside. To achieve this bench-to-bedside concept, the Research Institute focuses on basic science, clinical trials, health care effectiveness and quality-of-care research. Today, the Research Institute is conducting more than 2,000 active research protocols with 335 research investigators, spanning more than 60 medical specialties. It has research and development projects in areas ranging from human immunology and orphan metabolic diseases to diabetes, cardiovascular disease and many other unmet medical needs. Its Personalized Medicine arm offers a unique platform for identifying microarray-based fingerprint signatures. Baylor Scott & White and its affiliates offer Baylor Scott & White Research Institute researchers unique access to one of the largest patient bases available for research in the United States.

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