BioNTech, keeping its powder dry, pays WuXi $20M for 2 preclinical monoclonal antibodies

BioNTech, keeping its powder dry, pays WuXi $20M for 2 preclinical monoclonal antibodies

BioNTech is continuing to add to its sprawling R&D portfolio without denting its cash mountain. Chinese service provider WuXi Biologics is the latest company to feed the biotech’s appetite for assets, accepting a $20 million offer for monoclonal antibodies against two undisclosed targets.

Sitting on 17.5 billion euros ($19.2 billion) from its COVID-19 vaccine, the German biotech has built an oncology pipeline that features 20 clinical-phase assets and covers a range of modalities including mRNA therapeutics, cell therapies, antibody-drug conjugates and bispecifics. The R&D pipeline is the product of a series of deals.

BioNTech reached further back into the drug development process for its latest deal. Having repeatedly picked up clinical drug candidates last year, the biotech began 2024 by paying WuXi Biologics $20 million for exclusive rights to preclinical monoclonal antibodies against two undisclosed targets.

In a statement, WuXi Biologics CEO Chris Chen, Ph.D., said the deal “further validates our ability to provide integrated discovery technology platforms for global partners to develop new modalities.” The service provider applied its antibody discovery technology platforms to the targets.

The deal follows a busy 2023 for BioNTech’s business development team. Last year, BioNTech spent about 500 million euros to bring in six clinical-phase assets, Ryan Richardson, the biotech’s chief strategy officer, said during a presentation at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference this week. The biotech has the firepower to ink bigger deals but has settled on a different approach.

“The sweet spot for us has been to move on the back of phase 1 data for novel technologies,” Richardson said. “It allows us to really assess mechanism of action, technology and really go deep on diligence, both preclinical but also to have human data to base those decisions on.”

So far, BioNTech has shown a willingness to go after competitive targets when it believes new technology can disrupt established franchises.

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