Molecular Partners Announces Collaboration with Novartis to Develop DARPin-Conjugated Radioligand Therapeutic Candidates for Oncology

ZURICH-SCHLIEREN, Switzerland and CONCORD, Mass., Dec. 14, 2021 (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 a collaboration with Novartis in the form of a license agreement to develop, manufacture and commercialize DARPin-conjugated radioligand therapies (DARPin-RLTs). The collaboration will combine Molecular Partners’ industry-leading ability to rapidly generate high-affinity DARPins and the RLT capabilities and expertise of Novartis.

By harnessing the power of radioactive atoms and applying it to cancers through targeted radioligand therapy, RLTs have the potential to deliver molecularly targeted radiation to tumor cells anywhere in the body. Under the terms of the agreement, Molecular Partners will collaborate with Novartis to discover DARPin-RLTs that target specific tumor associated antigens. DARPins have great potential to enable robust, tumor-specific delivery of radioligands owing to their small size, allowing for greater tumor penetration, and high specificity and affinity.

“We are very pleased to announce this new collaboration with Novartis. For several years, the team at NIBR has established themselves as the world leader in the RLT field and working with them on this program is an easy choice to make,” said Patrick Amstutz, CEO of Molecular Partners. “While DARPins can be designed to perform any number of biological tasks, here we highlight some of their innate characteristics, including small size and high specificity and affinity, which may offer an advantage to RLT’s which often require a highly specific delivery vehicle.”

“Radioligand therapy is a transformative platform for delivering radiation to target cells, and DARPins are a unique modality for specifically targeting tumors,” said Jay Bradner, President of the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research. “The marriage of these two technologies is designed to enable us to target radioligands directly to tumor cells anywhere in the body with the goal of improving and extending patients’ lives.”

Under the agreement, both parties will collaborate on the discovery and optimization of the therapeutic candidates. Novartis would be responsible for all clinical development and commercialization activities. Novartis will pay $20 million upfront to Molecular Partners, total potential development, regulatory and commercialization milestone payments of up to $560 million, and up to low double-digit percent of royalties.