Interim Management Statement Q1 2023 of Molecular Partners: Well Capitalized to Pursue Highly Differentiated DARPin Portfolio Strategy

ZURICH-SCHLIEREN, Switzerland and CONCORD, Mass., May 11, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Ad hoc announcement pursuant to Art. 53 LR:
Molecular Partners AG (SIX: MOLN; NASDAQ: MOLN), a clinical-stage biotech company developing a new class of custom-built protein drugs known as DARPin therapeutics, today announced its interim management statement for the quarter ending March 31, 2023.

“This quarter we made advances across our portfolio, including two clinical-stage oncology programs, MP0317 for solid tumors and MP0533 for AML. MP0317 is now recruiting patients at the top doses planned. We anticipate analyzing these data and working with potential partners to determine the best combinations and indications for the program. MP0533 recruitment has commenced, dose escalation is ongoing and progressing seamlessly. We look forward to the progress in this study and sharing initial data from the trial later this year,” said Patrick Amstutz, Ph.D., Molecular Partners’ Chief Executive Officer. “We are also progressing well with our Radio-DARPin platform, comprising both in-house and Novartis-partnered programs, presenting at two leading scientific conferences, documenting the growing data in support of our thesis that RDTs have the potential to overcome many of the current limitations in the radiotherapy field.”

Financial and Business Outlook
For the full year 2023, at constant exchange rates, the Company expects total expenses of CHF 70 – 80 million, of which approximately CHF 9 million will be non-cash effective costs for share-based payments, IFRS pension accounting and depreciation. This guidance does not include any potential receipts from R&D partnerships.

With CHF 232.4 million in cash and short-term time deposits and no debt as of March 31, 2023, the Company expects to be funded into 2026, excluding any potential receipts from R&D partners.

Research & Development Highlights:

In November 2022, Molecular Partners presented early results from the ongoing Phase 1 trial of MP0317, the Company’s DARPin candidate targeting fibroblast activation protein (FAP) and CD40, for the treatment of solid tumors at the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) annual meeting. These data demonstrated the first clinical observation of tumor localized CD40 activation provided by MP0317. The candidate was also seen to be safe and well tolerated. MP0317 is designed to resolve the historical limitations of systemic CD40 agonists by activating immune cells within the tumor microenvironment through the simultaneous binding of the immune stimulator CD40 and FAP, a protein highly expressed within tumors. The dose escalation of the Phase 1 study remains on track.

Additionally, a clinical update will be provided at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting in Chicago in early June:

Abstract Title: Phase I study of MP0317, a FAP-dependent DARPin, for tumor-localized CD40 activation in patients with advanced solid tumors.

Session Title: Developmental Therapeutics—Immunotherapy
Abstract Number for Publication: 2584
Session Date and Time: 6/3/2023, 8:00 AM-11:00 AM

In January 2023, the first patient was dosed and recruiting and dose escalation is going according to plan in the Phase 1 study of MP0533, a novel trispecific T-cell engager for the treatment of Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). The first clinical results from this trial are expected by the fourth quarter of 2023. MP0533 engages CD3 on T-cells while binding up to three tumor-associated antigens (TAAs) CD33, CD70, and CD123 on AML cells. By modulating the affinity to each TAA, Molecular Partners designed MP0533 to induce T-cell-mediated killing preferentially when the cancer cells express two or three of the TAAs. This avidity-driven T-cell activation ensures preferential killing of AML cells, which consistently express two or three of the target antigens. At the same time, it is designed to reduce the damage to healthy cells (which tend to express only one of the target antigens), a recurrent issue with other T-cell engagers in AML.

In an oral presentation at the American Society of Hematology (ASH) annual meeting in December 2022, Molecular Partners presented preclinical results showing MP0533 can induce preferential killing of cells expressing two or three tumor-associated antigens (TAAs) compared to cells expressing a single TAA. MP0533 was demonstrated to activate T-cells and destroy AML cells in samples from newly diagnosed and previously treated AML patients with different TAA expressions. Humanized mouse models confirmed MP0533’s ability to activate intra-tumoral T-cells and control tumor growth. The research also showed that MP0533 was able to directly target and kill leukemic stem cells (LSCs), while sparing a variety of healthy cells including hematopoietic stem cells. The unique preclinical safety profile of MP0533 was further supported by several other parameters including a lower level of cytokine release relative to benchmark mono-targeted T-cell engagers, both in vitro in a whole blood assay and in vivo in the humanized mouse AML models.

Radio DARPin Therapy Platform
Molecular Partners has continued to progress its Radio DARPin Therapy (RDT) platform by reducing the kidney uptake of DARPin radio conjugates to overcome nephrotoxicity (toxicity in the kidney), the key limitation of small protein-based radiotherapies. In 2023, the Company presented positive preclinical data from its RDT platform at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) annual meeting and the 12th International Symposium on Targeted Alpha Therapy (TAT 12) supporting its potential to significantly reduce accumulation in the kidney, a common challenge with small protein-based delivery vectors. In preclinical models, the surface engineering did not affect tumor uptake or uptake in other healthy organs and in combination with another kidney reduction strategy provided a cumulative benefit.

The Company also selected tumor-associated protein Delta-like ligand 3 (DLL3) as the first target of its proprietary RDT programs. Expression of DLL3 is low in healthy tissue but significantly increased in certain tumor types, providing an opportunity for selective targeting through the high affinity and specificity offered by DARPins. These attributes, along with their small size, suggest that DARPins represent ideal delivery vectors for therapeutic radionuclides to efficiently target cancer cells with minimal systemic side effects. Molecular Partners is developing RDT candidates as part of its proprietary pipeline as well as in its collaboration with Novartis in the radioligand area.

Molecular Partners and Novartis signed a non-binding letter of intent to negotiate a Research Framework Agreement with a primary focus on emerging infectious global health threats.

In November 2021, Molecular Partners regained global development and commercial rights to abicipar for the treatment of neovascular age-related macular degeneration (nAMD) and Diabetic Macular Edema (DME). Abicipar completed two positive Phase 3 studies, CEDAR and SEQUOIA, which supported the non-inferior efficacy of its quarterly dosing regimen compared to monthly ranibizumab.

The Company continues to evaluate potential business opportunities for abicipar outside of internal development at Molecular Partners.

Financial Calendar

24 August 2023 – Publication of Half-year Results 2023 (unaudited)

26 October 2023 – Interim Management Statement Q3 2023