US biotech BioAtla has signed a license and option agreement with Pfizer to advance the development and commercialisation of a new class of antibody therapeutics.

These new therapies will be created using BioAtla's Conditionally Active Biologics (CAB) platform and Pfizer's proprietary antibody drug conjugate (ADC) payloads.

The deal gives both parties a license to each other's respective technology to pursue the development of several CAB-ADC antibodies, which aim to address the limitations of current ADC antibody technology by actively binding to antigens expressed on tumour tissue-resident cancer cells, but not to the same antigens expressed on healthy tissues.

If successful, this approach enable preferential targeting of tumour tissues by ADCs, and the use of CAB antibodies as payload delivery vehicles could dramatically increase the number of tumour-associated antigens that are addressable with ADC technology, the firms noted.

Under the alliance Pfizer also gains an exclusive option to develop and commercialise BioAtla CAB antibodies that target CTLA4, a validated immuno-oncology target in humans, in the hope of selectively targeting CTLA4 expressed on immune cells localised in the tumour microenvironment. 

BioAtla and Pfizer both stand to receive milestone payments and royalties based on individual CAB-ADC antibody candidates developed and commercialised by the other party. Including the CTLA4 option and license, BioAtla is eligible to receive a potential total of more than $1 billion in upfront, regulatory and sales milestone payments as well as tiered marginal royalties reaching double digits on potential future product sales.