Switzerland-based Numab Therapeutics and Ono Pharmaceutical have entered an option and partnership agreement to develop and commercialise the antibody NM49 for the treatment of cancer.

NM49 is a multi-specific antibody designed to activate tumour-associated macrophage phagocytosis.

The antibody is intended to treat cancers identified through Numab’s proprietary discovery and engineering technology platform.

Ono Discovery & Research senior executive officer/executive director Toichi Takino said: “We are very pleased to strengthen the partnership with Numab through the development and commercialisation of NM49 generated through Numab’s unique multi-specific antibody platform.

“We are committed to the development and commercialisation of NM49 to deliver it as a new therapeutic option to patients as soon as possible by maximally utilising Ono’s deep immuno-oncology expertise.”

Under the agreement, Numab has the option to co-develop and commercialise in the US, while Ono has the option to in-license NM49 for global development and commercialisation.

Before a Phase 3 clinical study begins, the option may be utilised, and if exercised, Numab will be qualified for co-promotion and a 50/50 profit-sharing plan in the US.

If the initiative moves forward with clinical development, Numab will handle the preclinical research and CMC operations, and Ono will pay for the associated costs and development.

In addition to an undisclosed upfront payment, the Swiss firm may also be eligible for tiered royalties on net sales and further payments contingent on meeting specific development, regulatory, and sales milestones.

Numab Therapeutics founder and CEO David Urech said: “This important partnership marks our third collaboration with Ono and the first one where Numab has the option to co-develop and commercialise in the US.

“We are thrilled to continue working with Ono on developing new high-impact multi-specific therapeutics for cancer patients.

“The collaboration will further expand Numab’s product pipeline and improve the productivity of our R&D activities.”

In December last year, Ono signed a discovery collaboration agreement with US-based EVQLV for the development of antibody drugs.