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Xencor Partners With UCLA to Develop New Drugs

Monrovia-based biopharmaceutical company Xencor Inc. announced Feb. 25 that it has signed a partnership agreement with UCLA’s Technology Development Group to develop new drugs.

Xencor is developing engineered monoclonal antibodies and cytokines for the treatment of cancer and autoimmune diseases; its technology enables small changes to a protein’s structure that result in new pathways to deliver drugs into the human body.

UCLA’s Technology Development Group is the university’s main technology transfer and commercialization vehicle. It helps facilitate the translation of UCLA discoveries into new products and services, either through startups it helps to launch or through partnerships and licensing agreements with existing companies.

Under the partnership agreement, UCLA’s Technology Development Group will work with faculty to propose potential antibody drug candidates. For selected candidates, it will collaborate with Xencor through sponsored research agreements and potential license agreements.

John Desjarlais, Xencor’s chief scientific officer, said in the announcement that Xencor’s antibody platforms, “and our ability to precisely tune a molecule’s target-binding capability, opens the door to evaluate the clinical potential of biology that was previously considered intractable. We look forward to collaborating with UCLA’s investigators to translate their biological insights into potential medicines.”

For UCLA, the aim of the partnership is to speed development of medicines that its researchers are developing.

“With this collaboration, we aim to accelerate the development of potential new biologic medicines, leveraging Xencor’s protein engineering technologies and expertise and the ongoing scientific discoveries and insights into disease biology made at UCLA, with the ultimate goal to improve patient outcomes and quality of life,” Mark Wisniewski, senior director of biopharmaceuticals at UCLA’s Technology Development Group, said in the announcement.

Xencor shares closed on Feb. 25 down 3.6% to $46.76; that percentage drop closely matched the Feb. 25 plunge in the overall Nasdaq market.

Howard Fine
Howard Fine
Howard Fine is a 23-year veteran of the Los Angeles Business Journal. He covers stories pertaining to healthcare, biomedicine, energy, engineering, construction, and infrastructure. He has won several awards, including Best Body of Work for a single reporter from the Alliance of Area Business Publishers and Distinguished Journalist of the Year from the Society of Professional Journalists.

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