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Harbour BioMed Acquires Harbour Antibodies to Create Global, Oncology-Focused Biotech

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. & SHANGHAI & ROTTERDAM, The Netherlands–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Harbour BioMed, a recently established Shanghai-based company, today announced it has acquired Harbour Antibodies BV for cash and an equity interest in Harbour BioMed to create a new, global oncology-focused biotechnology company. The new company plans to leverage Harbour Antibodies’ patented transgenic mouse platforms to build an internal portfolio of next generation therapeutic antibodies for cancer, expand the range of partnerships and licenses around Harbour’s platforms, and capitalize on the Harbour BioMed management team’s extensive worldwide drug discovery and development expertise.

The acquisition was financed by Harbour BioMed investors, Advantech Capital and Legend Capital, two leading China-focused investors with a particular emphasis on life sciences. Harbour Antibodies’ existing shareholders, including Atlas Venture, are retaining an interest in Harbour BioMed to participate in its continued growth and value creation.

“Over the last five years, Harbour Antibodies’ two transgenic mouse platforms have emerged as industry leading, world class discovery engines for next generation human antibody therapeutics, with over 30 partners,” said Peter Barrett, PhD, Partner at Atlas Venture and Chairman of Harbour Antibodies.

“Atlas Venture is proud to have supported the Harbour Antibodies team in bringing their important transgenic mouse platforms to labs and companies around the world. We look forward to Harbour’s technology transforming therapeutics for cancer patients under the leadership of the Harbour BioMed team.”

Harbour BioMed is led by Jingsong Wang, MD, PhD, CEO, and Liang Schweizer, PhD, CSO and other founding members. Prior to co-founding the company, Dr. Wang was at Sanofi, serving as Head of China R&D and Head of Translational Medicine, Asia Pacific. Prior to Sanofi, he served at Bristol-Myers Squibb, where he held multiple roles with increasing responsibilities, including Director of Discovery Medicine and Clinical Pharmacology and Global Program Lead for multiple preclinical and clinical assets. Dr. Schweizer was previously Head of Sanofi Asia Cancer Research. Before that, she was at Bristol-Myers Squibb as a Director of Leads Discovery and Optimization. Collectively, the founding team at Harbour BioMed has overseen the transition of more than 30 compounds into clinical trials worldwide and has been instrumental in the development of more than 10 globally marketed drugs and another 40 marketed in China.

Harbour BioMed also has a world-renowned Scientific Advisory Board that includes:

  • Prof. Frank Grosveld, PhD, Harbour Antibodies’ scientific founder and Academy Professor of Cell Biology at Erasmus Medical Center Rotterdam;
  • Robert Kamen, PhD, former president of Abbott Bioresearch Center and its predecessor, BASF Bioresearch Corp., where he oversaw the discovery and production of Humira® (adalimumab), the world’s top selling drug, and who also headed R&D at Genetics Institute. Dr. Kamen, who served on the Harbour Antibodies Board of Directors, will also join Harbour BioMed’s Board of Directors;
  • Robert Kramer, PhD, CSO of SalvaRx Therapeutics and Sonnet Biotherapeutics. Dr. Kramer was formerly VP of Global Oncology at Janssen Research & Development and VP of Oncology and Immunology at BMS R&D. Previously, he served as Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School; and
  • Peter Moesta, PhD, CEO of Adello Biologics, LLC. Dr. Moesta previously oversaw the production at Bristol-Myers Squibb of Opdivo® (nivolumab) and Yervoy® (ipilimumab), two pioneering immuno oncology drugs, and played a leadership role in the development and manufacturing of Humira at Abbott Labs and BASF.

“Our initial focus is on building an innovative therapeutic portfolio in immuno-oncology, an area of enormous promise which is transforming cancer therapy,” said Dr. Wang. “The Harbour transgenic platforms present significant opportunities for discovering and developing novel human antibody therapeutics against established and emerging targets. We expect to build our therapeutic pipeline through internal discovery and development, collaborative alliances with companies and leading academic institutions, and selective asset acquisitions where we can capitalize on our development and regulatory expertise in China and other regional markets.”

Dr. Wang noted that Harbour BioMed will continue licensing Harbour Antibodies’ transgenic platforms and investing in the platforms’ continued development. To date, the platforms have been licensed to more than 30 companies and academic institutions. Harbour Antibodies will remain a subsidiary of Harbour BioMed and will continue to manage the licensing operations.

Harbour BioMed was established in 2016 with an initial financing of US $50 million from Advantech Capital, Legend Capital and the Harbour BioMed founding team. The company is headquartered with R&D operations in Shanghai, business operations in Cambridge, MA, and antibody platform innovation operations in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. The company plans to expand its presence in the Boston area by establishing a drug discovery innovation center.

About Harbour Antibodies Transgenic Mouse Platforms

Harbour has two advanced transgenic mouse platforms, HCAb and H2L2, for the discovery of fully human antibodies. Many therapeutic discovery and development programs based on the platforms are ongoing at the company’s licensees, with the first wave of antibodies expected to enter clinical trials in 2017.

The HCAb platform for generating heavy chain only antibodies uniquely enables the development of differentiated, next generation molecules, including bi- and multi-specific antibodies and antibody fragment-based therapeutics.

The H2L2 platform generates conventional, full-length human antibodies. Both Harbour platforms eliminate the need for humanization steps and additional affinity maturation for product candidates, thereby reducing the time and cost of discovery.

Harbour Antibodies was founded by researchers at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, and Dr. Roger Craig.

About Harbour BioMed

Harbour BioMed is a global biotechnology company discovering and developing innovative therapeutics for cancer with a focus on immuno-oncology. The company’s discovery and development programs are built around its two patented transgenic mouse platforms for human antibody discovery. The company is building its proprietary pipeline internally, through collaborations with co-development partners, and selective preclinical and clinical stage asset in-licensing. Harbour BioMed also licenses the platforms to companies and academic institutions through its Harbour Antibodies subsidiary. Learn more at: http://www.harbourbiomed.com.

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