EXTON, Pa., Nov. 9, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Morphotek®, Inc., a subsidiary of Eisai Inc., announced today that it has entered into a license agreement with Blaze Bioscience, Inc. of Seattle, WA, a privately held biotechnology company developing Tumor Paint technology. Under the agreement, Morphotek provides to Blaze an exclusive, worldwide, royalty-bearing license to develop, license, and once approved, commercialize a potential tumor-targeting chlorotoxin derivative linked to a near-infrared diagnostic agent, which may help visualize cancer cells during surgery.
The tumor-targeting chlorotoxin derivative was originally isolated from scorpion venom. The chlorotoxin peptide was identified and pursued experimentally based on its ability to bind and suppress growth of activated epithelial cells. Subsequent studies have found that chlorotoxin peptides and engineered variants may bind and potentially be internalized by malignant cells via the annexin A2 complex. A completed Phase 2 clinical trial of radio-labelled chlorotoxin peptide evaluated overall survival in patients with recurrent glioma.
Blaze will utilize the licensed technology in their pipeline of Tumor Paint technology products, which includes BLZ-100, their lead product candidate. BLZ-100 consists of a peptide which binds and is internalized into cancer cells, and a fluorescent dye, which emits light in the near-infrared range. Tumor Paint products are designed to provide real-time, high-resolution intraoperative visualization of cancer cells, enabling more precise, complete resection of cancer throughout surgery. Preclinical utility of Tumor Paint technology has been demonstrated in a wide range of cancer types, including brain, lung, breast, prostate, and colorectal. BLZ-100 is currently in multiple Phase 1 proof-of-concept clinical studies to evaluate the safety and imaging characteristics of BLZ-100 in solid tumor cancers.
"We are excited to partner with Blaze Bioscience to advance these chlorotoxin-based imaging products, which have the potential to improve detection and surgical removal of tumor cells in patients, including those with brain and other solid tumor cancers," said Nicholas Nicolaides, President and CEO of Morphotek. "This license highlights the broad potential for tumor-targeting peptides beyond therapeutic applications and supports Morphotek's core mission of bringing novel first-in-class products to market for cancer patients worldwide.
Morphotek received an undisclosed upfront payment from Blaze and is eligible to receive scheduled development and sales milestone payments, as well as royalties on future net sales of licensed products. Morphotek retains all rights to develop chlorotoxin derivative products not covered by the terms of this license agreement.
Morphotek®, Inc., a subsidiary of Eisai Inc., is a biopharmaceutical company specializing in the development of protein and antibody products through the use of a novel and proprietary gene evolution technology. The technology has been successfully applied to a broad variety of cell lines and organisms to yield genetically diverse offspring that are suitable for pharmaceutical product development in the areas of antibody therapeutics, protein therapeutics, product manufacturing, drug target discovery, and improved output traits for commercial applications. The company is currently focusing its platform on the development and manufacturing of therapeutic antibodies for the treatment of cancer, inflammation and infectious disease. For more information, please visit www.morphotek.com.
About Eisai Inc.
At Eisai Inc., human health care is our goal. We give our first thoughts to patients and their families, and helping to increase the benefits health care provides. As the U.S. pharmaceutical subsidiary of Tokyo-based Eisai Co., Ltd., we have a passionate commitment to patient care that is the driving force behind our efforts to help address unmet medical needs. We are a fully integrated pharmaceutical business with discovery, clinical, manufacturing and marketing capabilities. Our key areas of commercial focus include oncology and specialty care (Alzheimer's disease, epilepsy and metabolic disorders). To learn more about Eisai Inc., please visit us at www.eisai.com/US.
Eisai Inc. has affiliates that are part of a global product creation organization that includes R&D facilities in Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, as well as a global demand chain organization that includes manufacturing facilities in Maryland and North Carolina. Eisai's global areas of R&D focus include neuroscience; oncology; metabolic disorders; vascular, inflammatory and immunological reaction; and antibody-based programs.
About Blaze Bioscience
Blaze Bioscience, Inc. is a privately held biotechnology company focused on guided cancer therapy. Blaze was founded in 2010 by Dr. Jim Olson, a pediatric neuro-oncologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Seattle Children's Hospital, and Heather Franklin, a former member of the executive management team at ZymoGenetics. Blaze is working to develop Tumor Paint products and Optide-based therapeutics. Surgery is first-line therapy for most solid tumor cancers and Tumor Paint products intend to improve cancer surgery by providing real-time, high-resolution visualization of cancer cells throughout surgery. The ability to see cancer cells in real time and high resolution throughout surgery should enable better detection and more complete and precise surgical removal of cancer—while sparing surrounding normal tissue. In addition to the Tumor Paint platform, Blaze is collaborating with the 2 Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center to discover and develop products based on knottin peptides as part of the Optides platform. This program extends the expertise gained in developing the Tumor Paint platform to optimized knottin peptides for therapeutic and imaging applications. For additional information, please visit www.blazebioscience.com.
SOURCE Morphotek, Inc.