Boehringer Ingelheim licenses multiple Dark Antigens from Enara Bio to develop immunotherapies for NSCLC

Published: 4-Jan-2024

Dark Antigens are a rich source of novel cancer-specific targets derived from regions of the genome historically thought to be non-coding, known as the genomic dark matter

Enara Bio announces that Boehringer Ingelheim has exercised its option to license a number of cancer antigens discovered and validated through the ongoing collaboration using Enara Bio’s Dark Antigen discovery platform, EDAPT.

This licensing event is a major milestone in the strategic collaboration between the companies that was announced in January 2021. Based on the licensed antigens, Boehringer intends to develop novel off-the-shelf vaccines for the treatment of patients with NSCLC. 
Despite new treatment options, lung cancer remains the most common cause of cancer death worldwide. Globally, the number of cases of lung cancer is estimated to rise from 2.1m in 2018 to 3.6m in 2040. NSCLC is the most common type of lung cancer, accounting for approximately 85% of cases. 

Enara Bio’s EDAPT platform is being used to discover and validate Dark Antigens in multiple solid tumour types. The initial discovery project identified a series of antigens with high prevalence in NSCLC patients.

During the antigen validation work package, Enara Bio demonstrated that the licensed antigens have several attractive characteristics as targets for immunotherapies.

These include confirmed presence on the surface of tumour cells, minimal or no expression on healthy cells, homogenous expression within tumours, and strong immunogenicity.

In addition to licensing these antigens, Boehringer Ingelheim has triggered the remaining component of the collaboration to initiate antigen discovery in another solid tumour. 
“As the leader in exploring the hidden depths of cancer biology to discover and characterise Dark Antigens, we are delighted that Boehringer Ingelheim has decided to exercise its first option to license Dark Antigens identified under our partnership,” said Kevin Pojasek, PhD, President and Chief Executive Officer of Enara Bio.

“We are proud to have successfully delivered on this exciting partnership, which validates our science and further highlights the potential of Dark Antigens to address the need for novel, cancer-specific targets in solid tumours. We look forward to continuing our work with the Boehringer Ingelheim team, as well as advancing our own projects to discover Dark Antigens and develop TCR-based immunotherapies.” 

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Lamine Mbow, PhD, Senior Vice President and Global Head, Cancer Immunology and Immune Modulation, Boehringer Ingelheim, commented: “We are looking forward to bringing transformative new treatments based on the novel antigens discovered with our partner, Enara Bio, to cancer patients and to continue the successful collaboration to find more new antigens.” 

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