Adimab Strikes Antibody-Discovery Deals with Merck and Roche

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GlycoFi, which Gerngross co-founded and helped run as chief scientific officer. (Merck’s GlycoFi unit, which uses recombinant yeast technology to make protein-based drugs, operates in the same building as Adimab near Dartmouth.) The deal with Roche is especially significant because Roche recently completed its acquisition of Genentech, a major provider of antibody drugs such as cancer treatment bevacizumab (Avastin) and rituximab (Rituxan) for lymphoma and rheumatoid arthritis. That the owner of Genentech, which has antibody-discovery capabilities of its own, would collaborate with Adimab is a big endorsement for the startup’s platform.

“It’s [Adimab’s] commercial coming out party in a sense; the technology passes enough muster that people are obviously willing to pay for it,” says Mike Ross, a managing partner at SV Life Sciences, who serves as a director at Adimab. Ross previously invested in GlycoFi, and has since brought Gerngross aboard as a venture partner at his firm.

Adimab is in the midst of talks with multiple other potential collaborators, says Gerngross. He says that in addition to large drug companies, his startup is talking to smaller firms with expertise in specific fields such as cancer treatment and inflammatory diseases, with the goal of forming new spin-off firms to develop antibody drugs discovered with Adimab’s technology in those specific fields. Adimab itself has no interest in developing drugs on its own, he says, adding that the firm will stick to the strategy of making money through technology licensing and other collaborations.

“The longer-term plan is to transfer the technology and make it available to big pharma partners, where they can bring it in-house and basically use it for their own purposes,” Gerngross. The plan is to become profitable with the income from such partnerships, he says.

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