Abbvie comes to the multiple myeloma party late
In piling on to the anti-BCMA bandwagon Abbvie has undoubtedly come late to the party. The group’s tie-up with the private biotech Teneobio, over the latter's bispecific antibody, worth $90m up front, came just days after Gilead took an $820m write-off for discontinuing KITE-585 and Novartis pivoted to a combinatorial approach to bolster its own anti-BCMA CAR, MTV273 (Novartis and Gilead’s multiple myeloma CARs diverge, February 6, 2019). The industry is teeming with competitive multiple myeloma assets targeting BCMA, of which Glaxosmithkline’s antibody-drug conjugate GSK2857916 is meant to be first to market. Abbvie/Teneobio’s anti-BCMA T-cell binding bispecific, TNB-383B, could go up against similarly acting projects from Amgen/Boehringer Ingelheim (AMG 420) and Johnson & Johnson/Genmab (JNJ-7957). Followers of bispecific approaches will note subtle design differences: while AMG 420 is a single-chain BiTE lacking an Fc domain, and JNJ-7957 is a “duobody” with single binding valency, TNB-383B has dual BCMA binding domains and a modified Fc region. The former property is meant to improve kinetics, while the latter could help increase the molecule’s half-life, and together these properties might give Abbvie/Teneobio a fighting chance even if they are trailing the leaders.