“Both ERYTECH and SQZ have made great strides to date in engineering cells for immune modulation, and we are excited to combine these advances to potentially create new, more powerful treatment options for those suffering from devastating conditions,” said Armon Sharei, Ph.D., founder and CEO of SQZ Biotech. “The combination of SQZ’s cell engineering capabilities with ERYTECH’s pioneering work could create a new class of disease modifying, allogeneic immune therapies for patients.”
Erytech Pharma SA bags US$57m from SQZ Biotechnologies
Under the agreement, Erytech will licence the rights to use its ERYCAPS platform to SQZ, which will combine it with its Cell Squeeze platform to develop cell-based therapies targeting cancer antigens and cancer cell amino acid metabolism. Erytech is eligible to receive up to $57m in combined upfront and milestone payments for the first product successfully developed by SQZ under the agreement. Additionally, the Lyon-based company is also be eligible to receive sales royalties, and up to $50m in commercial milestone payments related to each additional approved product or approved indication.
ERYCAPS allows to encapsulate drugs into red blood cells (RBCs). Erytech is exploring the use of this platform for developing cancer immunotherapies (ERYMMUNE) and enzyme therapies (ERYZYME). Erytech's lead product eryaspase, an RBC-encapsulated L-asparaginase that disturbs the amino acid metabolism of cancer cells, is in a pivotal Phase 3 trial for pancreatic cancer and a Phase 2 trial for triple negative breast cancer. Scientists at Erytech were the first to show in vivo that antigen-loaded RBCs can modulate immune function by inducing protein-specific tolerance and generating an antigen-specific immune response resulting in tumour growth control.
SQZ, which has a pipeline of antigen presenting cells, will capitalise on these findings combining both platforms to develop drugs targeting multiple disorders that induce antigen-specific immune responses. SQZ’s immune tolerance programmes include tolerising antigen carriers (TACs) for type 1 diabetes, as well as TACs engineered to treat patients with additional immune disorders.