Monrovia-based biopharma company Xencor Pharmaceuticals Inc. has entered into a research collaboration and commercialization agreement with Houston-based University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center to develop antibody cancer therapeutics.
Under the agreement, announced Jan. 6, MD Anderson will identify and develop potential antibodies, and Xencor will apply its technology to create the therapeutic candidates.

MD Anderson will then fund and conduct further preclinical trials and studies to prepare for official clinical trials.

The announcement said Xencor and MD Anderson are entering into the collaboration with two predetermined antibody candidate drugs though further details were not disclosed.

The agreement also gives Xencor certain exclusive options to license worldwide rights to develop and commercialize potential new medicines arising from the research collaboration.

For other drug development programs that Xencor does not license, the company will receive a portion of future payments made to MD Anderson.

Xencor is developing engineered monoclonal antibodies for the treatment of cancer and autoimmune diseases. Its technology involves engineered antibodies designed to recognize and bind to an antigen on tumor cells as well as to an activating receptor on T (immune) cells in order to activate the T cells to destroy tumor cells.

“Our research collaboration with MD Anderson will further expand the use of our technology to explore novel therapeutic targets, which could result in the creation of new therapies for patients with cancer,” John Desjarlais, chief scientific officer at Xencor, said in the announcement.

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston is one of 51 comprehensive cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Center Institute, which is part of the National Institutes of Health.

MD Anderson is focused on cancer patient care, research, education and prevention. It was recently ranked as the top cancer care center in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.

An MD Anderson executive said the center has long recognized the need for antibody-based strategies to trigger an immune response against tumors.

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